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OSHA finds unsafe conditions at Crane base

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A southern Indiana military base where an explosion and fire injured five workers earlier this year has made safety improvements and continues to work with regulators on other changes, a spokesman said Monday.

The Crane Army Ammunition Activity about 70 miles southwest of Indianapolis learned last month the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration would issue 36 notices for unsafe working conditions, spokesman Tom Peske said.

The findings including 34 "serious" violations with a "substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard" known to the base, WTHR-TV reported.

"Ammunition handling and production is inherently dangerous and the safety and wellbeing of our employees is our top priority," Peske said in an email. "We are grateful that we did not have serious injuries due to the explosion."

A pyrotechnic facility explosion March 28 sent five employees to a hospital for outpatient treatment and temporarily closed the unit.

OSHA found the explosion and fire occurred in two dust collectors in the pyrotechnic building, where workers were in the process of cleaning a production area. Multiple violations of OSHA's Process Safety Management standards for facilities that use highly hazardous materials and chemicals were found at the facility, WTHR said.

Vanessa Martin, director of OSHA's Indianapolis Area Office, called the violations an "unacceptable lapse in workplace safety."

Peske said the base has been working with OSHA on unresolved issues.

"In areas where we are not in compliance, we will make improvements. There are many gray areas to the standards and how they apply to the process, and those are the issues that need to be resolved," Peske said.

The damage pyrotechnical unit "is being renovated with improved safety features in mind," he said.

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