Waukegan company fined $1.6M over plant explosion that killed 4

The Department of Labor cited AB Specialty Silicones LLC for 12 federal safety violations and placed the company into its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

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AB Specialty Silicones in Waukegan after May 3, 2019 explosion

Nader Issa/Sun-Times

A Waukegan chemical plant has been issued a $1.6 million fine after an explosion in May claimed the lives of four employees.

AB Specialty Silicones, a silicon chemical productions manufacturer, was cited for 12 federal safety violations and fined nearly $1.6 million by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, according to a statement Friday from the Department of Labor.

On May 3, AB Specialty Silicone’s chemical plant in Waukegan was leveled by a ground shaking explosion that left four workers dead.

An OSHA investigation found that the company failed to ensure that electrical equipment in the production area of the plant complied with OSHA electrical standards, and were approved for use in hazardous locations, the department said. The company also used forklifts powered by liquid propane to move volatile flammable liquids and operated the forklifts in areas where employees handled and processed volatile flammable liquids.

In addition to the fine, the company was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which will put the company under greater agency oversight.

“Employers must employ hazard recognition to protect workers from harm, especially in high hazard industries,” Loren Sweatt, OSHA’s principal deputy assistant secretary of labor, said in the statement. “By ignoring safety and health requirements, this employer created an unsafe work environment with deadly consequences.”

AB Specialty Silicones was given 15 business days to comply with or contest the findings.

A representative for the company could not be immediately reached for comment Saturday.

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