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Region 3 News Release:   USDL: III-01-01-30-013-PA/DE
Tues., Jan. 30, 2001
Contact: Kate Dugan
Office: (215) 861-5101

GENERAL CHEMICAL CORP. CITED FOR SAFETY AND HEALTH VIOLATIONS; OSHA PROPOSES $487,000 IN PENALTIES

The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited General Chemical Corporation Delaware Valley Works for alleged safety and health violations at both the North plant in Marcus Hook, Pa., and the South plant in Claymont, Del., and proposed penalties totaling $487,000.

According to Phyllis Kyner, area director of the Philadelphia OSHA office, an inspection was initiated on Aug. 4, 2000 at the company's North plant when six employees were hospitalized after a release of Hydrogen Fluoride. The inspection at the South plant began on Sept. 14, 2000 as a result of a complaint.

"The hazardous conditions found at these sites foster a continuously unsafe work environment for General Chemical employees," said Kyner. "Immediate action must be taken to prevent future incidents and ensure the safety and health of these workers."

The citations issued today are the result of both inspections and have been issued so that the company is not penalized twice for the same violations found in each plant.

Eight willful violations with a proposed penalty of $365,000; 25 serious violations with a penalty of $104,000; and, two other-than-serious violations with a penalty of $1,000 have been issued for both the North and South Plants.

Citations for four serious violations, with a proposed penalty of $17,000, were issued for the South plant only.

A description of the alleged violations follows:

  • one willful violation of the process safety management standard - specifically, not addressing the Process Hazard Analysis teams' recommendations in a timely manner, not establishing a written schedule of correction or documenting completion of those recommendations. More than 70 instances of the teams' recommendations from 1991 until present were not resolved.

  • one willful violation of the process safety management standards - not correcting deficiencies in equipment.

  • one willful violation of the confined space standard in that the company did not ensure that all procedures specified by the permit had been conducted before entering a hydrogen fluoride tank

  • one willful violation of the lockout/tagout standard for not implementing an adequate program (lockout/tagout procedures are designed to safeguard employees from the unexpected startup or release of stored energy in machines or equipment).

  • one willful eyewash and shower violation which involved defective facilities at both plants.

  • three willful violations for recordkeeping for over 100 instances of not recording or misrecording lost time in calendar years 1998, 1999 and 2000.

The serious citations cover a range of violations of the process safety management standard; failure to notify the emergency actions team and failure to implement an emergency response plan when an emergency occurred; various violations of the personal protective equipment standard; confined space violations; failure to conduct periodic inspections of energy control procedures; and, failure to train employees in the hazards of hydrogen fluoride.

The serious citations issued to the South plant involve the process safety management standard for failure to have operating procedures on how to deal with airborne exposure to ammonia; problems with the mechanical integrity program; and failure to conduct inspection of valves or repair structural defects when discovered; and failure to maintain the hydrogen sulfide alarm in working condition.

The other-than-serious violations concern the certification of lockout/tagout training and other procedural inadequacies.

Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. Serious violations involve a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to decide 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 inspections were conducted by the Philadelphia OSHA office, 2nd and Chestnut St., Philadelphia, Pa., (215) 597-4955 and the Wilmington OSHA office, 844 N. King St., Room 2209 Caleb Boggs Federal Building, Wilmington, Del., (302) 573-6518.

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Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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