U.S. federal safety regulators proposed penalizing an Alabama dealership $152,099 following an investigation into a flash fire that killed three employees and injured two more.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued three safety citations — one willful, two serious — last week against Carl Cannon Inc. in Jasper, Ala., for failing to implement a chemical hazard communication program, improperly storing flammable liquids and allowing the use of unauthorized electrical receptacles and equipment in hazardous areas. Carl Cannon also sells Cadillac, Buick, and GMC vehicles at the same location.
"Inspectors determined that the employees were using a flammable brake wash to scrub the service pit floor when the fire occurred," OSHA said in a statement.
Four employees sustained major injuries after a fire broke out in the service department of Carl Cannon Chevrolet in June, while a fifth employee was treated for smoke inhalation but was released, according to the statement.
"Failure to effectively implement a hazard communication program has tragically resulted in the loss of lives and serious injuries," OSHA Area Director Ramona Morris said in the statement. "Employers must ensure employees are trained and aware of the hazards associated with handling flammable chemicals."
The investigation, which began June 13, concluded on Dec. 4 after a closing conference was held with the employer, an OSHA spokesman said.
A Chevrolet spokesman, in an email to Automotive News, said the brand wasn't able to comment beyond expressing sympathies for the families who lost loved ones.
The dealership has 15 business days to comply with the citations and proposed penalties, request an "informal conference" with the OSHA area director or contest the investigation's findings before a review commission.
A wrongful-death suit was filed in Walker County Circuit Court on July 12 on behalf of the children of one of the employees killed in the flash fire.
Carl Cannon Inc. officials did not respond to a request for comment.