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Ammo company facing $188,000 fine after explosion killed 2

Ammo. (Maxpexel/Released)

A Florida ammunition maker could be fined $188,290 by OSHA for a flash-powder explosion that killed two workers in September.

From the federal agency’s accident Investigation summary of the tragedy at Perry’s AMTEC Less Lethal Systems: “At 10:00 a.m. on Sept. 14, 2018, two employees were loading flash powder into a blast strip inside blast booths when it ignited and exploded. One employee was killed at the scene and the second employee died one week later from his injuries.”

The worker killed on the scene was 42-year-old Christina Patterson, a wife and mother of three. Thomas Fowler, 56, died a week later.

“When employers disregard safety standards, they place their employees at risk,” OSHA Jacksonville Area Director Michelle Gonzalez said in the Department of Labor’s fine announcement. “This tragedy could have been prevented if AMTEC had complied with OSHA standards.”

Of the seven violations the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found in this incident, six were classified as serious and one was willful, defined as “a violation in which the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement (purposeful disregard) or acted with plain indifference to employee safety.”

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In this case, the Citation and Notification of Penalty says AMTEC, which was acquired by PACEM Solutions International in October, didn’t change any procedures when they raised the maximum limits of flash powder in or near the blast booths from 200 grams to 500 grams.

The serious violations included improper training of employees working in the production of T460 Blast Strips; not doing, or at least not documenting that it did, Process Safety Management complaint audits that have to be done at least every three years; and the blast booth’s protective glass being “not capable of withstanding the blast overpressure.”

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© 2019 Miami Herald

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.