Region 3 News Release: III-99-05-19-042-PGH
Wed., May 20, 1999
Contact: Kate Dugan
PHONE : (215) 596-1147 AFTER HOURS: (610) 522-9484
CLAIRTON CHEMICAL PLANT CITED BY OSHA
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited
Koppers Industries, Inc., Clairton, Pa., for alleged violations of safety and health standards
and proposed penalties totaling $273,500. Koppers produces organic light oils including
benzene, toluene and xylene and employs 2,000 nationwide and 71 workers at this site.
An investigation was initiated Dec. 5, 1998, after a fire occurred which resulted in the
death of two workers. The employees were working in an aerial lift using a welding/cutting
torch when flammable material, which seeped out of a pipe, was ignited by the cutting torch and
resulted in the fatalities. Additionally, it was discovered that asbestos removal had been
performed in the area of the accident, and proper procedures had not been followed.
According to Robert Szymanski, area director of the Pittsburgh OSHA office, a willful
citation with five items and a proposed penalty of $260,000, has been issued to the company. A
serious citation with five items and a penalty of $13,500 was also issued.
"The nature of these violations indicates the company's disregard for employee safety
and health at this facility," said Szymanski.
The willful violations include: performing hot work on pipes containing flammable
materials without cleaning, purging or testing prior to welding; failure to provide a competent
person to recognize and correct hazards; failure to make a negative asbestos exposure
assessment; exposing employees to asbestos above the permissible exposure limit; failure to have
a competent person supervise asbestos work; failure to have a competent person perform
inspections for all shifts for Class 1 asbestos work; and, having untrained person perform Class 1
The five serious violations include the improper storage of oxygen and acetylene; failure
to establish a regulated area for asbestos work; failure to post warning signs where asbestos work
is being performed; failure to perform daily asbestos monitoring or have a competent person
perform exposure assessments; not using wet methods when performing asbestos work and
failure to use adequate personal protective equipment.
Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain
indifference to, the requirements of the OSH act and regulations.
A serious violation involves 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 either decide to
comply, to request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest the
citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review
The inspection was conducted by the Pittsburgh OSHA office, Federal Building, Room
1428, 1000 Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa. 15222, telephone (412) 395-4903.
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