Occupational Safety and Health Administation hasn't re-inspected Global Pyrotechnic Solutions in 11 years

7:50 PM, Mar 6, 2012   |    comments
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Global Pyrotechnic Solutions

By Leisa Zigman I-Team Reporter

Dittmer, MO (KSDK) - The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Missouri Division of Fire Safety's Office of the State Fire Marshal, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are all investigating Tuesday's explosion at Global Pyrotechnic Solutions.

The blast injured three employees at the business on Tuesday. But, while authorities are on the scene now, the I-Team has been digging into the history of this family business and what appears to be a lack of government oversight for more than a decade.

While OSHA documented violation after violation in 1999, 2000, and 2001, officials never made any surprise or announced inspections since that time. OSHA officials tell the I-Team, "The last inspection at this location was in 2001 and OSHA issued citations for 11 violations and fined Pyro Products $242,000.

The I-Team also learned that Pyro Products never paid the full fine. OSHA sent the company to a collection agency but according to an OSHA spokesperson, Pyro executives never paid in full.

The I-Team has been connecting the family dots on the companies that were registered to property in Dittmer, Missouri. What we do know is that the company has changed names over the years, but the family who controls it, has not.

Founder Gerry Walker established Sunset Fireworks in 1973 and a sister company Pyro Products 14 years later. But after a serious of explosions, deaths, injuries, lawsuits, and a criminal indictment, Pyro lost its license in 2003 and Gerry Walker entered a guilty plea on behalf of the company. He was put on probation and fined $70,000.

His children, Michael Walker, Susan Harvey and Lisa Govro now run Global Pyrotechnic Solutions where Tuesday's explosion occurred.

I-Team QUESTION: What has OSHA done to monitor this company since the last explosion on its property in 2001? Have you done any surprise inspections? What were the results?

The last inspection at this location was in 2001 and OSHA issued citations for 11 violations and fined Pyro Products $242,000. The company abated all the violations. From 2004 through 2008 OSHA engaged in a partnership with the American Pyrotechnics Association members and others, including small businesses, in providing information, guidance and access to training resources to help them protect employees' health and safety.

OSHA targets industry sectors with historically higher than average injury and illness rates for their industry in which to conduct programmed (planned) inspections. Accidents in the pyrotechnics industry are infrequent. Businesses are required to maintain accurate injury and illness records and must report all fatalities and incidents where three or more employees are hospitalized.

QUESTION: Does OSHA have the authority to shut a business down?

OSHA has no authority to "shut down" a business or to permanently close a business. In the event of an "imminent danger" situation, OSHA may ask an employer to immediately remove employees from a hazard and simultaneously post a "Notice of Imminent Danger" in the workplace to alert employees of the danger, but they cannot close the plant. The only alternative for OSHA is to obtain a temporary restraining order from the court requiring the employer to remove employees from the area until the hazard is abated.

Records show Global Pyrotechnic Solutions, the current company, has not been cited for any workplace violations.

KSDK

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