OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
Following a 4-month investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of an explosion at the Columbus, Ohio, facility of Georgia-Pacific Resins, Inc., the company and OSHA have agreed upon a plan for improving safety and health at the plant. The accident claimed the life of one worker and injured four others.
Under the terms of the settlement, Georgia-Pacific Resins, Inc., has agreed to pay $432,500 in penalties -- the total proposed by OSHA -- and make significant safety improvements at its Columbus, Ohio, facility. OSHA issued the citations and penalties today.
"We are pleased that Georgia-Pacific has agreed to resolve this matter as quickly as possible, in order to ensure maximum protection for its employees," said Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman. "The agreement avoids the cost and burden of possible prolonged litigation and furthers the efforts of both Georgia-Pacific and the Labor Department to ensure a safe workplace at the Columbus facility."
Georgia-Pacific Resins, Inc., a manufacturer of thermoplastic and thermosetting resins and formaldehyde, is headquartered in Atlanta. The company employs approximately 50,000 workers nationwide in more than 400 facilities. The Columbus facility began operations in 1971 and currently employs 57 workers.
The incident occurred on Sept. 10, 1997, when an 8,500-gallon reactor vessel used for resin production exploded, killing one worker and injuring four others. During the subsequent investigation, OSHA found numerous violations, all but one involving the standard for process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals.
"Georgia-Pacific's Columbus facility cooperated fully during our investigation," said OSHA administrator Charles N. Jeffress. "Now, the company wants to move forward. In addition to paying the proposed penalties and abating hazards discovered in the investigation, the company has agreed to implement additional safety and health measures to help prevent future incidents."
Under the settlement agreement, Georgia-Pacific will implement procedures to promptly and completely address the findings and recommendations of each process hazard analysis and incident investigation report. Additionally, the company will train each employee involved in a covered chemical process or operation in an overview of the process and pertinent operating procedures, including any actions taken as a result of the process hazard analyses or incident investigations.
To address employee training requirements, Georgia-Pacific has agreed to implement a state-of-the-art interactive computer- based training system within the next 18 months, to train employees in running simulated resin batches.
Georgia-Pacific is required to report to OSHA the progress it will be making to comply with this agreement and the process safety management standard.
Georgia-Pacific Resins, Inc.
Process safety information did not include process chemistry for Novolak resin batches.
Process safety information did not include all safe upper and lower limits.
Process safety information did not include an evaluation of every consequence of deviation.
Process safety information did not include accurate piping and instrument diagrams.
The employer did not perform initial process hazard analysis for the Novolak resin process.
K-2 process hazard analysis did not consider all the hazards of the process.
K-2 process hazard analysis did not address the consequences of engineering control failure.
Process hazard analyses did not address facility siting.
Human factors checklists in the process hazard analyses were not completed.
The employer did not communicate the actions of the K-2 process hazard analysis to all affected employees.
The employer did not certify annually that the operating procedures were current and accurate.
Inspections and tests on process equipment did not address all items related to mechanical integrity.
All affected employees who operate resin batches were not informed of and trained in changes to the written operating procedures.
The incident investigation reports did not include factors which contributed to the incidents.
The incident investigation reports were not reviewed with all affected personnel.
The employer did not document that deficiencies found in the compliance audit were corrected.
Each affected employee did not wear a hard hat when working in areas where there was a potential for injury to the head from falling objects.
The resin reactor vessels and associated controls were not sufficient to minimize uncontrolled exothermic phenol-formaldehyde reactions.
The employer did not develop and implement written operating procedures that provided clear instructions for safely manufacturing resins.
The written operating procedures did not address all the requirements for the operating limits.
The written operating procedures did not effectively address the requirements for the safety and health considerations.
The training program for operators did not include all the required elements.
The employer did not provide refresher training to each operator.
The employer did not correct deficiencies in equipment that were outside acceptable limits before further use or in a safe and timely manner.
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