Nestle Purina Petcare Faces Lawsuit from Dust Explosion
Nestle Purina Petcare is facing a personal injury lawsuit from a welder that suffered third-degree burns and other injuries after a dust explosion at a Purina’s Flaggstaff, AZ pet food manufacturing plant in Sept. 2014, Courthouse News reported on Tuesday.
The victim, Andrew Buschmann, a welding supervisor at Arizona Equipment Fabrication, received the injuries as he was fixing holes in grain elevators at the site and his welding plates caused fine particles of grain dust to ignite.
“We filed when we did because the two year statue was approaching,” said the victim’s attorney, Eddie Pantiliat, in an interview with Courthouse News. “We have not made any contact with Nestle thus far as this case is in its early stages. Mr. Buschmann suffered terrible burn injuries.”
Claimants have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit in Arizona. Buschmann suffered third-degree burn injuries on his face, head, neck, ears, and back, in addition to hearing loss, bruising, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the effects of smoke inhalation in the wake of the blast.
“The employer did not properly assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, which necessitate the use of personal protective equipment when conducting hot work with a potential of combustible dust explosion,” the Arizona Division of Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) in a citation against the company. Courthouse News reported that OSHA found the company did not prepare the grain elevators before Buschmann and several other welders started their repairs. Nestle was fined $5000 by OSHA for their role in the incident.
Nestle challenged the OSHA findings with the Industrial Commission of Arizona, which upheld the federal agency’s citation. Through a settlement, Nestle paid $3500 in fines. Citations can be reduced if companies impose policy or other changes that improve hazardous conditions, the news organization said.
“The director of the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health found that this settlement and actions taken by Purina – revising welding practices, and contractor selection – supported the Occupational Safety and Health Act and thereby agreed to the adjustments,” Commission spokesman Bob Charles told Courthouse News.
Nestle Purina has been cited for 12 health and safety violations by OSHA inspectors in the past five years, reported Courthouse News, with the agency issuing about $17,000 in fines.
A Nestle Purina spokesperson declined to comment on the matter when interviewed by the news organization.