US Labor Department's OSHA cites Westlake Vinyls
in Geismar, La., for multiple process safety management violations
GEISMAR, La. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Westlake Vinyls Co. LP in Geismar for 10 serious safety and health violations, primarily related to OSHA's process safety management standards. Proposed penalties total $67,000.
"This company exposed its employees to avoidable workplace hazards that can cause serious injury and possible death," said Jack Turner, OSHA's area acting director in Baton Rouge. "OSHA's safety and health standards must be followed to prevent accidents and illnesses."
OSHA's Baton Rouge Area Office conducted an inspection under the agency's national emphasis program on process safety management for covered chemical facilities at the company's facility on state Highway 73. OSHA found that employees were exposed to the potential of over-pressurized process equipment while conducting operations across the plant.
Ten serious violations include failing to provide accurate process safety information for piping and instrument diagrams, use the appropriate detection methodologies in the process hazard analysis and properly complete emergency shutdown procedures, repair or maintain pressure-relieving devices and conduct management of change while maintaining process equipment. 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.
OSHA's standards for process safety management involve a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers follow to proactively address hazards associated with processes and equipment that involve large amounts of hazardous chemicals. More information is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/processsafetymanagement/index.html.
One other-than-serious violation is not having the design codes for the safety interlock systems used on process equipment.
The company, which is a subsidiary of Houston-based Westlake Chemical Corp., produces vinyl chloride monomer and polyvinyl chloride. It employs about 138 employees at this facility.
Westlake Vinyls has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Baton Rouge or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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) or the agency's Baton Rouge office at 225-298-5458.
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.