Washington state’s Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) has fined Zodiac Cabin & Structures Support LLC $1,316,000 for safety and health violations in connection with an explosion at its plant that injured 17 workers.
L&I says the explosion on July 14, 2015, could have been prevented if Zodiac used required safety interlocks and safeguards on a curing oven as recommended in a consulting engineer’s report.
Zodiac faces 17 willful and 18 serious violations. L&I says the company “knowingly and willfully” exposed workers to the risk of serious injuries by using defective equipment and not ensuring safe procedures were used when processing flammable material in the curing oven.
“Had this explosion occurred during the day when many more workers were present, there could have been many more injuries and possibly even deaths,” said Anne Soiza, L&I assistant director of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. The plant employs 100. Soiza said the explosion was “highly predictable.”
The force of the explosion was large enough to topple large machinery, lift the floor from its foundation and collapse part of the roof. Immediately after the explosion, the local sheriff’s office declared the building temporarily unsafe to enter. The plant was shut down for more than a month before it was able to resume regular operations.
Zodiac was cited for:
- not ensuring effective energy control procedures were in place to protect workers when they had to reach inside the curing oven for cleaning, service or maintenance
- confined space violations related to employees entering the 90-foot oven to perform cleaning, service or maintenance, and
- failing to prevent ignition of flammable vapors and protect employees from inhaling those vapors, such as from solvent and formaldehyde.
L&I has categorized Zodiac as a severe violator which makes the company subject to follow-up inspections. Zodiac has 15 days to appeal the citation.
Zodiac is a subsidiary of French multinational Zodiac Aerospace. Zodiac manufactures materials for airplane cabins, is a key supplier to Boeing and also makes various components for Airbus.