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Local News

March 14, 2013

OSHA fines Deposit wood-pellet plant

The owner of a Deposit wood-pellet plant has been fined $17,710 for allegedly exposing workers to hazardous conditions, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA also fined New England Wood Pellet $30,000 for alleged violations at a plant it operates in Schuyler.

The agency said in a media release that the company exposed workers to “fire, rapid combustion and wood dust explosion hazards due to deficient implementation of protective measures in the wood pellet processing system and related equipment.”

“The accumulation of combustible wood dust poses catastrophic fire and explosion hazards if proper safeguards are not implemented and maintained,” said Christopher R. Adams, OSHA’s area director in Syracuse. “Of particular concern is that the hazards identified at these two plants echo similar conditions found at the company’s New Hampshire manufacturing plant, which was the site of a combustible dust fire in October 2011.”

Violations at the Deposit plant include inadequate ventilation, lack of isolation devices and lack of spark detection and extinguishing systems in the wood-pellet processing system.

OSHA issued three repeat citations for the fire, explosion and electrical hazards. A repeat citation is issued when an employer has been cited for the same or a similar violation within the past five years.

Similar violations were cited in July 2008 at the company’s plant in Jaffrey, N.H.

The New York inspections also found five serious violations for electrical, machine-guarding and confined-space hazards, the agency said. These citations are issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known, the agency said.

“One means by which employers can prevent conditions that can injure or kill workers is to establish and maintain an effective illness and injury prevention program in which management and employees work together to identify and prevent hazardous conditions,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator for New York.

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