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OSHA News Release – Region 3
U.S. Department of Labor
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 asbestos work.
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 Commission.
The inspection was conducted by the Pittsburgh OSHA office, Federal Building, Room 1428, 1000 Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa. 15222, telephone (412) 395-4903.
This information will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request.
Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD). Telephone: 1-800-927-9273.
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