The Troy aluminum manufacturing building destroyed by a fire Wednesday morning had a history of exposing workers to safety hazards, according to the Department of Labor.
Anderton Castings, previously known as C & H Die Casting Inc., was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 2013 and 2014 for major OSHA violations.
In 2013, inspectors fined the facility $112,500 for 30 serious health and safety violations, including the use of spliced electrical cords. The following year, investigators found workers still being exposed to the same shock hazards and fined the facility $22,000 for the repeat violation. Another 14 serious safety hazards were found during the 2014 inspection, leading to an additional penalty of $44,400. Those violations included everything from failure to guard belts and shafts to spliced welding cables and missing grounding prongs for electrical cords.
“OSHA investigators also witnessed an employee in the furnace area pouring hot metal into dies without proper protective equipment, which exposed him to burn hazards,” the Department of Labor said in a December 2014 description of the violations.
In 2013, OSHA explained it had been targeting the site through a program that devotes enforcement resources to workplaces with high rates of injuries and illnesses.
"The numerous violations found at this workplace emphasize the need for every employer to develop a strategy to find and fix hazards to ensure the safety and health of workers," OSHA Area Director Casey Perkins said in a 2013 press release. "Fortunately, this inspection process was initiated before any severe injuries took place."
Bell County Fire Marshal Steve Casey said Wednesday's fire was caused by a male employee who was working on a cast machine and dropped a bottle of nitrogen into the molten metal and caused an explosion that threw hot metal onto the ceiling, sparking the fire that eventually consumed the entire building.
Fire crews said there was an estimated $5 million in damage. Six to eight employees were inside the building at the time, and none were injured. The man who started the fire was wearing protective gear. He will not face charges.
The building was a total loss and was being torn down Wednesday morning.
Channel 6 contacted Anderton Castings’ corporate offices for comment. A spokeswoman was unavailable Wednesday morning. We will update this story if we hear back.