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Fine-Dodging Repeat Violator Cited by OSHA Following Explosion


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OSHA is investigating a late March explosion at Alco Metal & Iron Co. in San Leandro, CA which sent a propane tank smashing into a car where a man had been sitting.  

According to Inside Bay Area News, the company has been cited six times in the past decade for violations ranging from failure to train employees on machinery to improper labeling of emergency shut-off buttons.  Although they have been fined $33,000 for the violations, through constant appeals the company has paid only a fraction of that amount.  

In the latest incident, the man narrowly escaped injury:

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health, also known as Cal/OSHA, has launched an investigation into the March 28 incident at Alco Metal & Iron Co., 1091 Doolittle Drive, where the tank was being cut down for scrap. It exploded and flew across four lanes of Doolittle before hitting a car. A 61-year-old man, napping inside his Honda Civic before the start of his shift at a nearby business, narrowly escaped injury. The Civic, purchased just days before, was totaled. The man has since returned to work.

The flying propane tank wasn’t the first time an Alco worker has been injured at one of its three Bay Area facilities over the past decade. In September 2012, a worker at the San Leandro facility lost several fingers in an alligator shear, a machine used to cut down metal, according to Cal/OSHA records. A subsequent investigation found that employees did not get appropriate training for the tool and emergency shut-offs and the equipment was not legibly marked.

Investigators also found that the alligator shear had no adequate means of quickly shutting off power in an emergency and lacked a shear guard to protect workers in case of an accident, both violations of Health & Safety codes.

CAL/OSHA spokesperson Greg Siggins declined to discuss the past violations of the company and said that the investigation into the latest incident could take up to six months to complete.


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