For the second time in two weeks, a worker was killed at the Mississippi Phosphates plant in Pascagoula, Miss. The victim, Jeremy Moore, died in a “steam explosion” at the fertilizer plant. Two other men were injured in the explosion and were hospitalized. Mississippi Phosphates released a statement saying, out of caution it had “temporarily suspended production” at the plant.

In the previous accident which occurred in that same work area, another worker, Jeffrey Simpson, was killed. Over the past ten years, OSHA has found more than a dozen safety violations at Mississippi Phosphates and leveled $20,000 in fines. Earl Etheridge, who is with the Department of Environmental Quality, says this accident involved a steam explosion and not any chemicals. The most recent safety issues at Mississippi Phosphates were reported by OSHA in 2009, when the company was fined $5,000 for “electrical” and “housekeeping” violations.

Mississippi Phosphates Corp. was cited by the government for 40 safety and health violations following the deaths of two workers in separate incidents at the company’s Pascagoula facilities, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA proposed penalties of $165,900. Richard Johnson, vice president of operations at MPC, had this to say in a statement:

The company is undertaking a comprehensive review of OSHA’s report and will expeditiously address OSHA’s recommendations for improving the safety of our workplace. MPC remains committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for its employees.

It appears the company cooperated with the OSHA investigation. Following the accidents, MPC voluntarily shut down its facility for more than two weeks to examine its safety and training procedures. While the OSHA inspectors were on site, recommendations were made and MPC appears to have addressed them in a timely manner. According to reports, MPC has completed the vast majority of the items noted during the inspection and has a plan to complete them all.

A worker died in the May 22nd incident while attempting to start up a steam turbine in sulfuric acid plant and was hit by flying metal debris when the turbine housing ruptured due to apparent over pressurization. In a similar incident on June 1st, a worker restarting a tripped steam turbine in a sulfuric acid plant also was killed by flying metal debris when the turbine housing ruptured due to over-pressurization. OSHA cited other safety and health violations including exposing workers to “struck-by” hazards by not protecting them against over-pressurization and failing to maintain and service equipment in accordance with the company’s maintenance program to prevent over-pressurization.

The company also was cited for failing to test and inspect pressure relief devices throughout the facility. Mississippi Phosphates is a producer and marketer of diammonium phosphate, which is used as a fertilizer. The company’s manufacturing facilities consist of two sulfuric acid plants, a phosphoric acid plant and diammonium phosphate granulation plant.

Source: Claims Journal

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