OSHA further reduces WaterRower fines

Warren firm had contested citations following Dec. 7 industrial accident

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The United States Department of Labor has further reduced proposed fines against WaterRower, after company officials contested a series of citations handed down by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) last month. The move comes five months after an explosion in a paint booth injured several workers, one of them seriously.

Earlier this month, WaterRower officials agreed to a $15,000 fine for citations written following site visits by investigating OSHA officers; that fine was reduced from the original proposed fine of $26,890. However, WaterRower officials contested another set of citations, saying the issues uncovered in them would be difficult for them, or anyone, to adequately prepare and plan for.

This week, WaterRower CEO Peter King said that after that second batch of citations was contested, OSHA agreed last week to reduce penalties for inadequately barricading a loading and staging platform from $12,548 to $8,750. In addition, another series of citations relating to the use of personal protective equipment was deleted.

“None of the citations and penalties imposed related to the incident,” Mr. King said. Instead, they were unrelated issues found during an OSHA site visit.

The explosion occurred just before noon on Wednesday, Dec. 7, when a still unknown malfunction in an industrial paint-curing oven allowed combustible materials to escape and ignite, injuring five.

Two employees suffering from smoke inhalation and burns were transported to Rhode Island Hospital, and three who suffered from minor injuries were also transported, Warren Fire Chief Al Galinelli said. The most-severely injured employee suffered burns on his hands and is still out of work, Mr. King said. He keeps in regular contact with him.

WaterRower, which at last count employed about 237 employees, is Warren’s largest private employer.

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