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Three California companies fined for workplace accident

California is a crucial cog in the economy of the United States. In fact, the state's economy is so large it would rank as one of the world's biggest if it were its own country. However, with all that success comes the potential for dangerous working conditions and workplace accidents at the state's many places of business.

One such incident took place in August of last year. An explosion in Sylmar, California, at a business injured three workers, two of them seriously; the most badly hurt worker lost an arm and a leg in the incident. The state's Division of Occupational Safety and Health, known as Cal/OSHA, has finally issued its findings.

The three companies that were involved were fined more than half a million dollars for their roles in the violations. Cal/OSHA issued 18 serious citations and six willful citations as a result of the accident. The explosion happened when workers were transferring oxygen and hydrogen gas between two cylinders. A pressure vessel containing compressed gas exploded.

The three companies were cited for putting their employees at risk by improperly storing and manufacturing the gases. Ironically, the explosion took place the same day as a hearing about an earlier explosion in Simi Valley, California, that claimed the life of an employee. The penalties and citations in that case were limited because much of the evidence needed to rule on the case was destroyed in the accident. However, the reason for the hearing was essentially the same as the accident in August: improper storage of hydrogen and oxygen.

Source: Occupational Health & Safety, "$540,890 in Fines Issued to Three Firms Following Blast at Calif. Plant," Feb. 16, 2012

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