by , on May 31, 2018
metal manufacturing building, blue sky

Safety incident causes production problems for auto customer

Many years ago, a large auto manufacturing client had 3000 workers sidelined by a parts supplier. The lean manufacturing model they had employed had a hole they didn’t know they needed to fill: electrical safety.

The small parts supplier had an arc flash fatality, and OSHA shut the plant down for two weeks for the investigation. The auto manufacturing plant they supplied had to lay off 3000 workers for that period of time, costing millions in production. That company then contacted us to conduct safety audits and implement minimum safety requirements for those up-chain suppliers. Since that implementation, the auto manufacturing plant has seen excellent results in worker safety for up-chain suppliers and less downtime.

In the news now is the following:

Safety incident causes production problems for auto customer

An auto parts supply factory, Meridian Magnesium Products of America in Eaton Rapids, MI, sustained a fire due to an explosion in early May 2018. Two employees suffered injuries, and the plant has closed temporarily.

Meridian makes support parts for Ford F-150 radiators, as well as parts for other car manufacturers. Because Meridian now cannot supply the parts, Ford has been forced to indefinitely suspend all production of their F-150 trucks.

Michigan OSHA has already begun an investigation into this incident. The report also estimates damage at the Meridian plant to be at $8 million.

The Eaton Rapids Fire Department official report made available on May 21 said some of the explosions occurred because the fire suppression system at the plant sprayed water onto molten magnesium. The cause of the first explosion has not been ascertained, the report said.”

History of Safety Issues

Three years in a row, Meridian received citations for safety violations, including the lack of wheel chocks on industrial trucks. They received another for not providing metal shielding to protect workers from inadvertent metal splash.

In September 2015, an employee was “burned by an arc flash explosion”. At the time, employees were not required to wear appropriate protective equipment or use insulated tools.

Necessity of electrical safety training

Training for personnel is critical at every level of the supply chain. When one link in the chain fails due to possible lack of training, the consequences are far-reaching. Repercussions not only affect the bottom line of bigger corporations but also the paychecks of many employees.

Electrical safety training is an OSHA and NFPA 70E requirement. It is just one part of a safety program at any given plant, and it is something that employers should not put off or minimize. The e-Hazard Safety Cycle includes the different aspects of electrical safety. Read more about this and Electrical Safety Training on our website.

You can also take a look at our upcoming class schedule here.


Hugh Hoagland
About author:
Hugh Hoagland is the foremost tester of clothing and PPE exposed to electrical arcs and is an arc flash expert. Read more about Hugh.

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