Byron fireworks company fined for fire-safety violations

A federal agency says it plans to fine a Byron company $176,375 for safety violations that caused an April 13 fire.

One worker was seriously burned in the fire at Pyrotechnic Specialties Inc.

On Wednesday, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it found one "willful" violation, five serious violations and one "less than serious" violation.

According to OSHA documents, the fire started when a propeller in a mixing bowl struck the side of the bowl and caused a spark.

We could not reach company officials for comment.

According to OSHA:

  • PSI did not handle explosives or blasting agents safely.
  • The company did not develop and use safe procedures for using hazardous materials.
  • PSI did not provide proper training for workers performing dangerous procedures or document that training.
  • It failed to prepare an incident report describing the April 13 fire, the cause and the investigation.
  • It failed to conduct a safety-compliance audit for that mixing process.
  • It also did not conduct an analysis of potential hazards in their production process. OSHA calls that a "willful" violation.
  • And PSI also failed to notify OSHA about the employee hospitalized as a result of the fire, as required by law. They call that a "less than serious" violation.

The plant manufactures various types of small explosives, such as "flash grenades" used by law enforcement in raids.

According to OSHA, PSI has 15 days to request a meeting to discuss the fine or correct violations and pay the fine, or contest their citation.

This isn't the first safey problem at the plant. In 2006, an unexpected explosion damaged several homes in the area.
Some of the problems date back to 1999 when they received 14 citations by the U.S. Department of Labor.
In January of 2009, federal prosecutors dropped fraud charges against the firm after they were accused of selling faulty grenades that injured FBI agents. Charges were dropped by the judge because he said the FBI had a report saying it wasn't the company's fault.
At the time, CEO David Karlson said he knew the charges would fail and that the allegations hurt his business. US Attorney Max Wood said that the office properly handled the case.
Months later, the Environmental Protection Agency cited PSI to remove hazardous waste immediately. The release said, "hundreds of containers of explosive and reactive hazardous waste that were being improperly stored in various sea-land containers were discovered."
Karlson said the release overstated and exaggerated the problems and that the company was waiting for permission to ship the waste to a dump site in Missouri.


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