The food and animal feed ingredient producer has asked federal judges to rule in its favour. It claims employee training and instructions provided were correct.
Oral arguments were heard yesterday at the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.
The Texas-based supplier is challenging a US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) citation and proposed $75,092 fine for allegedly having inadequate instructions on how to maintain an industrial-scale pressure cooker that fatally burned the workers in August 2020, noted the Bloomberg Law report.
The explosion in question occurred at the company’s DAR PRO Solutions plant at the Greater Jackson Industrial Park near Byram. That facility collects and recycles cooking oil and meat byproducts, which are used in the manufacture of pet food.
Two maintenance workers died from complications of thermal burns from the explosion.
According to the OSHA citation, at 6:52 pm on August 10, 2020, two employees and a coworker were attempting to remove a clog from a hydrolyzer. The employees and the coworker did not lock out or isolate the stored energy and were unable to get the steam to release from the pressure vessel. One employee, a senior maintenance worker, made the decision to open a flange positioned at the bottom of the pressure vessel to release the steam. As that employee slowly loosened the bolts, steam would unexpectedly release, causing the employees and the coworker to jump away from the escaping steam to prevent burning. This continued for approximately ten minutes when the employee decided to take a break to cool down and let the area clear out of steam. That employee instructed his colleague and the coworker to take a break as well.
While the senior maintenance worker was taking his break, a maintenance technician decided he would assist in the removal of the flange and began to repeat the process that the senior worker was using to release the steam. When the senior worker returned, he noticed the technician performing the same method of steam removal as he was doing and scolded him for not following his directions.
During the course of the argument, both employees were untightening the bolts and suddenly the flange cover broke free, releasing high-pressured steam and engulfing the employees. The coworkers on site attempted to render first aid and 911 was called for emergency services. The senior maintenance worker and the maintenance technician were transported to the hospital and admitted to the burn center. They had sustained steam burns to over 70% of their body and died on August 14, 2020, as a result of their injuries.
The Byram company was also cited by OSHA for three ‘serious’ violations in 2017. The US agency said a fixed ladder on a plant silo was 'not maintained in safe condition' and cited the plant for violations with a mechanical power apparatus and a powered industrial truck. The company settled with the agency for $12,604.80, said OSHA.