Region 1 News Release: 09-478-BOS/BOS 2009-126
Tues., May 5, 2009
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
U.S. Labor Department's OSHA proposes more than $46,000 in fines against North Attleboro, Mass., metals plant following chlorine gas leak
BRAINTREE, Mass. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Metalor Technologies for 10 alleged serious violations of safety standards, with $46,500 in fines, following an inspection prompted by a Nov. 7, 2008, chlorine gas leak at the company's North Attleboro, Mass., metals refining plant.
OSHA's inspection found deficiencies in the plant's Process Safety Management (PSM) program, a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must follow to proactively assess and address hazards associated with processes and equipment that use large amounts of hazardous chemicals. In this case, the process involved the use of chlorine gas to purify precious metals.
"The consequences of a leak or other incident involving large amounts of chlorine can be severe and catastrophic," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for southeastern Massachusetts. "That's why it is vitally important that each element of the process be rigorously, completely and continuously scrutinized and adjusted to minimize hazards and enhance the workers' safety and health."
Specifically, the company had not compiled information on the chemicals, technology and equipment used in the purifying process; performed an initial process hazard analysis; developed and implemented written procedures covering the process, its ongoing integrity and any changes to it; audited the process at least once every three years; and obtained and evaluated the safety and health programs of outside contractors working in the plant. The company also failed to post a sign identifying a confined space.
These conditions resulted in the issuance of the 10 serious citations. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known. Detailed information about OSHA's PSM standard is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/processsafetymanagement/index.html.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Boston South Area Office in Braintree, telephone 617-565-6924.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their workers. OSHA's role is to promote the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.