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Region 3 News Release: 10-949-PHI(osha 10-154)
July 19, 2010
Contact: Leni Fortson
Phone: 215-861-5102
Email: uddyback-fortson.lenore@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA cites DuPont for exposing workers
to hazardous chemicals following a fatal accident at the Belle, W.Va., plant

BELLE, W.Va. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited DuPont for exposing employees to hazardous chemicals following a fatal workplace incident in January at the company's Belle, W.Va., plant.

OSHA initiated an investigation in January when a worker was exposed to a fatal amount of phosgene due to a ruptured hose. The investigation was subsequently expanded to cover two additional chemical releases that occurred at the plant involving oleum and hexazinone, as part of OSHA's National Emphasis Program on Process Safety Management at covered chemical facilities.

"OSHA's process safety management standard requires that companies anticipate the possible hazards associated with processes involving highly hazardous chemicals like phosgene and oleum," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "Workers are left vulnerable to life-threatening or permanent injuries and illness when these processes are not done in a thorough and comprehensive way."

As a result of the investigation, OSHA has cited DuPont with six serious violations including the company's failure to properly inspect piping used to transfer phosgene, perform a thorough process hazard analysis for its phosgene operation, train workers on hazards associated with phosgene, thoroughly inspect all high-risk sections of piping used to transfer oleum, and properly install energized electrical conductors. OSHA issues a serious citation when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard the employer knew or should have known about.

The company was also cited for five other-than-serious violations due to improper recordkeeping. Proposed penalties total $43,000. 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 citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Charleston, W.Va., or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Employers and workers with questions about workplace safety and health standards can call the Charleston Office at 304-347-5937 or OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-6742 to report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers.

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 assure 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.

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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at http://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 http://www.dol.gov/compliance.


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