Investigation Into Vernon Industrial Fire Reveals Safety Violations: OSHA

Six months after an industrial fire broke out at the Soldream, Inc. facility in Vernon, federal authorities are launching an investigation into more than a dozen potential workplace violations they say may have contributed to the blaze and exposed workers to deadly hazards.

Soldream – an aerospace, defense and commercial industrial facility located on Reservoir Road in Vernon – could face more than $59,000 in fines for suspected health and safety violations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Flames broke out when titanium dust settled on a workbench while an employee was cleaning titanium aircraft parts May 19. According to OSHA, the bench was not designed for work with titanium and room’s dust collection system “lacked adequate fire and explosion controls.”

Further investigation revealed no sprinklers or fire safeguards in areas where flammable liquid was being sprayed. Employees also did not receive hands-on fire extinguisher training and lacked proper training and protection while working with hazardous chemicals, according to OSHA.

Federal authorities said some of the facility’s milling machines had faulty or bypassed interlocking systems, so there was nothing to stop workers from “being caught in the machines.”

“In addition to fire and explosion hazards, workers at this facility faced serious cuts and amputations, electrocution, illnesses and other serious injuries due to a lack of safeguards,” said Warren Simpson, OSHA’s area director in Hartford, in a statement Wednesday.

The Vernon Fire Department said at the time that firefighters quickly beat down the blaze and remained on scene for about an hour.

Soldream executives could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

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