FILE - In this June 1, 2017 file photo, part of the
Didion Milling Plant lies in ruins following a May 31,
2017, explosion in Cambria, Wis. Federal labor officials
say the Wisconsin milling company should pay $1.8
million in fines for failing to prevent the fatal
MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin
milling company should pay $1.8 million in fines for
failing to prevent a fatal plant explosion earlier this
year, federal labor officials announced Friday.
The Didion Milling Co. corn processing
plant in Cambria exploded on May 31, killing five
workers and injuring 12 more, including an employee who
had to have both legs amputated after the blast sent a
railroad car crashing down on him.
The Occupational Safety and Health
Administration issued a news release Friday saying that
an accumulation of highly combustible grain dust
probably caused the explosion.
The agency said the explosion was
preventable and issued 19 citations against the company
for violations including failing to maintain equipment,
failing to implement a program to control dust
accumulations, failing to shut down ignition sources,
failing to prevent static electricity discharges,
failing to provide adequate protective equipment to
workers and failing to correct malfunctioning dust
collection systems. OSHA officials proposed fining the
company $1.84 million.
"Didion Milling could have prevented
this tragedy if it had addressed hazards that are
well-known in this industry," said OSHA Regional
Administrator Ken Nishiyama Atha. "Instead, their
disregard for the law led to an explosion that claimed
the lives of workers, and heartbreak for their families
and the community."
The company has 15 business days from
receiving the citations to comply with the fine, request
a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the
findings before the Occupational Safety and Health
Review Commission. The commission is an independent
federal agency that decides disputes over OSHA citations
Didion officials said in a statement
Friday afternoon that they disagree with the severity of
the penalties and OSHA's conclusions. They said they're
working with their attorneys to decide how to proceed.
They added they plan to build a new
plant with state-of-the-art safety equipment.
<<EXTERNAL VIDEO LINK: U.S. Chemical Safety Board
presents 'Combustible Dust: An Insidious Hazard'