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Coating Shop with OSHA Record Burns

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

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A steel plant coating facility cited last year for combustible residues, excessive exposures and flammable liquid hazards has been destroyed in a fire.

Authorities reported explosions from paint and chemicals during the fire Thursday (May 2) at Southern Perfection Fabrication, a manufacturer of steel, stainless steel, aluminum and magnesium fabricated products. The cause of the blaze has not yet been determined.  

In May 2012, tthe Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the 30-year-old company, in Byron, GA,  for a slew of violations, including exposing employees to flammable liquids and failing to train workers on the use of fire extinguishers. 

Southern Perfection Fabrication
Facebook / Charles Johnson

Southern Perfection Fabrication in Byron, GA, was destroyed by a fire Thursday (May 2). However, the owner said that employees "won't miss a minute of work."

'We Had Explosions'

More than 80 firefighters responded to the blaze about 7 p.m. Thursday, where they saw heavy smoke and flames shooting from the roof, said Dan Varga, Byron Fire Department's Public Information Officer.

It took about an hour and a half to get the fire under control.

"We had explosions going on from the paint and chemicals inside," Varga told The Telegraph.

Southern Perfection Fabrications has four buildings. The building that caught fire was used for welding, painting and administrative offices, Gordon Hale, owner of the company, told the newspaper.

Employees said they left the building after smelling smoke. No one was working in the welding shop at the time because it closes at 5 p.m.

Previous OSHA Violations

In May 2012, OSHA cited Southern Perfection for 15 serious safety and health violations; original proposed penalties totaled $54,600.

Byron steel manufacturer fire

The cause of the fire, which took firefighters 90 minutes to put out, has not been determined.

The issues including exposing workers to combustible residues and flammable liquids in the spraying and powder coating areas without adequate precautions to prevent fires and explosions. The inspection was initiated in November 2011 based on a complaint.

"Companies must not wait for a catastrophic event or an OSHA inspection before they act to protect their workers from illnesses," William Fulcher, OSHA's Atlanta-East area director, said at the time.

All of the citations were upheld, but the fines were reduced to $16,380 in fines.

Work Won't Be Affected

Approximately 35 of the company's 100 employees worked in that building, which Hale said appeared to be a total loss.

However, operations would not be affected, and employees from the damaged building were expected to move to another area, Hale told The Telegraph.

"They won't miss a minute of work," said Hale.

No one from the company was available for comment Monday (May 6).


The company was cited in May 2012 with 15 serious health and safety violations for exposing workers to flammable liquids and not properly training employees in using fire extinguishers.

A nearby subdivision was evacuated as a precaution, and three firefighters were treated for minor injuries.

Investigating the Cause

Byron Fire Chief J.D. Mosby said fire investigators have not yet determined a cause of the blaze and are continuing to investigate.

"We go through the scene, and we look at the char patterns and burn patterns and determine where the origin was, and we look at all the sources of ignition within that area," Mosby told CBS affiliate 13WMAZ.

"Typically, we go by the burn patterns to determine the direction that the fire came; we use witness interviews and videotape and still pictures from the time of the fire," said Mosby.

"Where we looked at, you could see how hot it was in those areas. As it starts to move along and go through the attic, you can tell where the main fire was and how it shifted into the office areas," Varga told 13WMAZ.


Tagged categories: Fire; Metals; OSHA; Stainless steel; Steel

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