Didion disagrees with proposed $1.8M in fines after fatal explosion
CAMBRIA, Wis. — Officials from Didion Mills Inc. are contesting the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposal of more than $1.8 million in fines following the fatal May 31 explosion .
The explosion at the plant killed five people and injured 12 others, including a 21-year-old employee who suffered a double-leg amputation after being crushed by a railcar.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed $1,837,861 in fines against Didion Milling Inc., saying an accumulation of highly combustible grain dust likely caused the explosion.
OSHA found that the explosion was likely caused by Didion’s failure to correct the leakage and accumulation of highly combustible grain dust throughout the facility and to properly maintain equipment to control ignition sources, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Labor Friday.
Didion disagrees with the severity of the penalties levied against the business, and contests OSHA’s conclusions. The company said in its own news release Friday afternoon that they are working with legal counsel to determine how to address the finding from the federal agency.
OSHA cited Didion’s Cambria facility with 14 willful — including eight willful per-instance egregious — and five serious citations, move involving fire and explosion hazards. The company has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“Didion Milling could have prevented this tragedy if it had addressed hazards that are well-known in this industry,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Ken Nishiyama Atha, in Chicago. “Instead, their disregard for the law led to an explosion that claimed the lives of workers, and heartbreak for their families and the community.”
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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