In the Nov. 14 incident, an industrial rubber compound mixer exploded, seriously injuring two workers.
Thirteen "serious" violations were recorded in this case by OSHA following its investigation (23 total "serious" violations were recorded by OSHA, though some were lumped together as one violation), along with three "other-than-serious" violations.
Proposed fines totaled $155,386 for this second incident, with the largest fine at $14,502 and the lowest at $2,072, according to OSHA's May 12 citation letter to Continental.
"Employees working in the employer's Mixing Department are exposed to the recognized hazards of explosion, deflagration, and/or fire associated with the employer's use of dust collectors to collect combustible tire compound mixing dust (carbon black mixtures) which are located indoors and are connected directly to mixing equipment," OSHA stated.
"The mixing process presents potential ignition sources into the dust collectors. The direct connection between each mixer and its associated dust collector(s) creates an unimpeded pathway for combustible dust in the dust collector to encounter an ignition source and ignite, causing an explosion, deflagration and/or fire."
OSHA cited 10 other indoor and outdoor dust collectors at the Mount Vernon plant that allegedly were "similarly configured" to the one that exploded.
Other "serious" violations related to the Nov. 14 explosion resulted from allegedly obscured pathways and blind exits; cleanliness issues for "carbon black dust that was allowed to accumulate in layer form;" a lack of personal protective equipment for those operating the mixer and nearby machinery; and "sharp protruding objects, loose boards and corrosion."
"On or about Nov. 14, 2021, and times prior, where necessary by reason of hazards of process during mixing operations capable of producing flammable vapors including ethanol gas, the employer did not provide and ensure the use of flame-resistant clothing to protect tandem mixer operators, such as those operating the Line 21 mixer, from flash fires and flame fronts associated with ignition of flammable vapors," OSHA said.
Ceiling and mezzanine heights and a lack of guarded rails and proper widths for "walking-working" paths also were cited as "serious" violations, according to OSHA.
Abatement procedures related to the alleged mixer explosion violations must be implemented by various deadlines including June 8, June 30 and Aug. 12, according to OSHA.
"OSHA standards are put in place to prevent workers from suffering life-altering injuries," OSHA Region 5 Area Director Aaron Priddy said in a statement. "Continental Tire the Americas must learn from these tragic injuries, review company safety procedures and employee training and make sure workers are safe on the job."
Barring a request within the 15 business days for an informal review or dispute of the alleged violations, it was unclear if the abatement procedures and monetary penalties must be satisfied on the same deadlines dates listed in the citation and penalty letters.
Based in Fort Mill, S.C., Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C. manufactures passenger, light truck and commercial tires in the U.S. at facilities in Mount Vernon; Bolton, Miss.; and Sumter, S.C.
The Mount Vernon factory, opened in 1972, produces passenger, light truck and truck/bus tires, employing 3,400 with estimated capacity of 14.1 million units a year, according to data from the latest Global Tire Report.