News Release USDL: 96-325
Thursday, August 8, 1996
Contact: Susan Hall Fleming (202) 219-8151
OSHA To Consider Expanding List Of Hazardous Chemicals; Agency
Will Reopen Rulemaking On Process Safety Management
Action is in Response to Explosion Resulting in Deaths of Five Workers
An investigation of a New Jersey plant fire that killed five workers has promoted
the federal government to launch a thorough review of chemicals that can pose a
serious risk to U.S. workers, the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA) announced today.
"In reopening the process safety management standard, OSHA will take a hard
look at adding reactive chemicals to its list of hazardous chemicals," Assistant
Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Joseph A. Dear said.
"We're taking this action today to ensure that other U.S. workers will be
protected from the same kind of tragic accident that resulted in the death
of these five workers."
OSHA's action follows its analysis of an April 1995 explosion at Napp
Technologies in Lodi, N.J.
Napp Technologies manufactured pharmaceuticals and performed custom
blending of chemicals for other companies. The explosion, which destroyed
the facility, occurred while the firm was blending sodium hydrosulfite,
aluminum powder, potassium carbonate and benzaldehyde for another
company. None of these chemicals are on the list of highly hazardous
chemicals covered by the OSHA process safety standard, but employers
need to analyze materials being mixed for any possible chemical hazards
or incompatibilities. Mixing larger quantities of chemicals may pose hazards
that are not present in smaller quantities. Also, mechanical equipment used in
mixing must be thoroughly checked.
Expanding OSHA's list of hazardous chemicals would bring it into harmony
with the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) list, required by the Risk
Management Rule, which implements 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act.
Dear also said that OSHA is considering possible means to address requirements
under its hazardous waste and emergency response standard regarding the
circumstances under which employers facing emergency conditions must
contact local fire or other appropriate emergency authorities. OSHA received a
request from several union petitioners urging the agency to pursue these actions.
NAPP Technologies has agreed to pay OSHA $101,600 in penalties for
citations from OSHA's investigation of the April 21, 1995 chemical
explosion and fire that killed five workers. The incident also injured
eight workers and forced the evacuation of 400 community residents.
OSHA issued citations to Napp Technologies for one willful and 12 alleged
serious violations on Oct. 18, 1995, and proposed penalties totaling $127,000.
Today's settlement agreement changes the willful violation against Napp
Technologies to an unclassified violation. However, NAPP has agreed,
should it rebuild, to institute the following safety measures:
conduct a comprehensive review of all operations to ensure
compliance with applicable workers safety and health standards;
engage an independent safety and health professional to conduct
periodic comprehensive safety and health audits and develop action plans
to abate all hazards found;
contract with a qualified safety professional to train Napp Safety
Council members (including supervisory, technical and employee
representatives) to perform their duties effectively;
review all facility processes to identify those that should undergo a
more detailed process hazard analysis; and
designate a responsible management official as a safety director,
whose primary responsibility will be to oversee Napp's safety and health
program, worker health and safety issues and compliance with applicable
health and safety standards.
On July 3, OSHA sent a hazard information bulletin to its compliance
officers describing the Napp Technologies explosion and fire. The
document recommends that employers conduct process safety analyses
for all materials with catastrophic potential, even if the chemicals are
not covered by the process safety standard. The hazard information
bulletin is available on the Internet at http://www.osha.gov under
Other OSHA Documents, Hazard Information Bulletin.