The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited King of Prussia, Pa.-based Arkema Inc. with 12 serious, one repeat and one other-than-serious violations for exposing workers to multiple safety hazards while producing organic chemicals at the company’s Houston, Texas, facility. Proposed penalties total $117,100.
OSHA’s Houston North Area Office initiated an inspection of the Haden Road plant in January after receiving an employee complaint, and later expanded the inspection under the agency’s process safety management national emphasis program for preventing or minimizing the catastrophic release of toxic, reactive, flammable or explosive chemicals.
The serious violations include failing to compile process safety information on instruments used as safeguards and on relief system design, ensure that recognized and good engineering practices are used, follow recommended process hazard analysis procedures, and inspect and test equipment identified as safeguards.
A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The repeat violation is for failing to review and certify operating procedures on an annual basis to ensure that current practices are being followed. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. A similar violation was cited in 2010.
The other-than-serious violation is for failing to develop safe work practices to control entrance into covered processes.
An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
Arkema employs about 2,400 workers who produce industrial chemicals at 32 facilities in the United States and Canada, Mexico and Brazil.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s Houston North area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.