An OSHA investigation has determined that Air Liquide Advanced Materials Inc. could have prevented an explosion earlier this year that resulted in several employees suffering serious injuries. The company, which manufactures industrial gas, failed to follow required operating procedures at its plant in High Springs, Florida, where diborane is produced, distilled, mixed, and transferred. The accident happened when a young product technician used a heat gun to transfer gas from an aluminum source cylinder to a steel cylinder. The worker suffered a host of severe injuries, including third-degree burns and a leg amputation. Four more employees and several first responders also had to be taken to the hospital.
The investigation ultimately determined that the company required workers to use equipment that was not safe in the presence of flammable chemicals and vapors. Air Liquide Advanced Materials was cited for 12 serious violations and faces $201,573 in penalties.
In a recent quote, OSHA Area Office Director Scott Tisdale said, “By putting production ahead of safety, Air Liquide Advanced Materials altered a young worker’s life permanently. Our investigation found the company worked to increase productivity at its High Springs facility but failed to employ safety measures required for the production of a toxic chemical, diborane. No employee should ever risk their life or well-being needlessly to earn a living. This preventable tragedy must serve as a reminder of the importance of complying with safety and health standards, as required by law.”