In response to the findings of the US Chemical Safety Board enquiry, presented on November 16th in Gallatin, TN, USA, Hoeganaes Corporation has restated its commitment to take every measure to ensure that its Gallatin plant “operates to world class standards”.
In a statement Hoeganaes commented, “This year we have experienced two very serious accidents involving the loss of five lives and one less serious incident. The three accidents were unrelated, the first being caused by an electrical fault, the second a flash fire during furnace maintenance and the third a hydrogen leak leading to an explosion.”
“These accidents have had a profound and permanent effect on our company, employees and most particularly the families and friends of the colleagues who lost their lives. We continue to provide support to the families and our employees at the facility.”
Following the explosion on May 27th, all production was ceased at Hoeganaes and two expert external firms were engaged to lead a comprehensive safety review of the entire facility. The review involved substantially all Gallatin employees as well as experts from across the GKN Group.
“The objective of the review was to ensure that the root cause of the three incidents was fully understood and any corrective action implemented. In addition, the review made recommendations which would take the Gallatin facility far beyond regulatory compliance to world class standards of operations and safety. These corrective actions have been taken to ensure that similar accidents will not happen again.”
Over a period of three months, the recommendations from the review were implemented which primarily involved:
- the upgrade of electrical systems;
- replacement of the gas and air supply system in the affected building;
- the implementation of significantly upgraded gas management and hydrogen detection systems;
- the development of an industry leading powder metal dust management system;
- upgrades to furnaces to improve operations and safety and
- full and comprehensive retraining of all employees.
The work was carried out in full consultation with Tennessee OSHA and the plant went through a phased restart during August, only after the actions from the review were verified as complete. The company states that it has also fully cooperated with the Chemical Safety Board.
“The health and safety of our employees is the number one priority for all companies in the GKN Group. The company deeply regrets the loss of life at Gallatin. It has left a terrible scar on GKN’s 250-year history. We are taking every measure to ensure Gallatin operates to world class standards.”