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BEDFORD, Ohio (WJW) — An Oakwood Village metal recycler was not following proper safety procedures when a steam explosion killed one person and injured 15 others in February, according to federal investigators.
Federal inspectors determined the explosion happened while employees inspecting a water leak on a furnace that smelted solid metals. The water leaked onto molten metal inside the surface, causing a steam explosion. The company did not follow safety guidelines specifically meant to protect workers from dangerous releases of energy, investigators found.
“This terrible tragedy could have been avoided if the employer followed well-known machine safety standards that are meant to prevent this type of explosion,” OSHA Area Director Howard Eberts is quoted in the release. “Sadly, a worker lost his life and 15 others were hurt in an incident that was entirely preventable. It’s exactly why employers need to follow required safety procedures and train their employees.”
The Alexander Road foundry has been operating in Bedford since 1917 and until recently recycled material into metal alloys, ingots and pellets, according to the release. It has remained closed since the Feb. 20 explosion. The work site is considered to be a complete loss.
The blast killed 46-year-old Steven Mullins of North Ridgeville, who was a maintenance supervisor, according to the release. More than a dozen other people were treated at a hospital, mostly for burns, fire officials said in February.
The company now has 15 days to meet with Eberts or contest investigators’ findings before an independent commission.