US Labor Department's OSHA cites Pennsylvania-based Arkema for safety
violations at Houston facility
HOUSTON – 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 facility. 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. Proposed penalties total $117,100.
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.
"Process safety management prevents the unexpected release of toxic, reactive or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals," said David Doucet, director of OSHA's Houston North Area Office. "It's vital that Arkema ensure that safeguards are in place to protect the safety of workers at this facility."
The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/ArkemaInc_316217835_0710_12.pdf*.
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.
OSHA's standards contain specific requirements for the management of hazards associated with processes using dangerous chemicals. Additional information is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/processsafetymanagement/index.html.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742), the agency's Houston North office at 281-591-2438 or its Houston South office at 281-286-0583.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.
* Accessibility Assistance Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.