West Palm Company Fined by OSHA After Deadly Accident

A subsidiary of West Palm-based Oxbow Corporation is facing $75,600 in fines after an accident in September at an industrial plant in Kremlin, Okla., killed one worker and left two more with severe injuries.

The workers were employed with a subcontractor called Geo. P. Reintjes Co., which was also cited. The accident occurred while workers were trying to remove refractory brick that lined the furnaces of a kiln chamber. In doing so, they triggered the release of steam and heated petroleum coke, which burned them.

An investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that Oxbow's subsidiary, called Oxbow Calcining LLC, had neglected to make the workers aware of the dangers of the job and failed to ensure that they were wearing equipment that would protect them against an accident.

On its company website, Oxbow boasts of a four-year streak in which it didn't have a single "LTA" -- lost time accident.

Oxbow goes beyond minimum safety standards and strives for continuous improvement in all aspects of our work. The goal is to ensure our workforce has healthy and safe places to work and ultimately eliminate all accidents.

Company spokesman Brad Goldstein offered his condolences to the families of the victims, calling the accident a "tragedy." But the West Palm industrial firm is intent on challenging several of OSHA's findings, says Goldstein. He told Juice that Oxbow has a "very robust safety program -- one that we implement at every one of our facilities." In relation to the accident, Goldstein says, "the subcontractor bears the responsibility."

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