Chemical Company Cited Following Two Employee Deaths and One Sickened
Exposure to dangerous toxins at an Alabama chemical manufacturing plant lead to two deaths and sickened another worker after the employer failed to provide appropriate protective equipment and implement safe work practices during maintenance activities on chemical processing equipment
An OSHA investigation found that on July 2, 2021, these employees were exposed to toxic fluorocarbon and other hazardous chemicals that resulted in respiratory failure. One worker spent nearly a week in a hospital for respiratory treatment, while the other two were treated, but died later on.
The investigation found that the exposure occurred while the workers were conducting maintenance activities requiring processing a line break, a nitrogen purge, and atmospheric venting of equipment, resulting in the release of the toxins. The employer failed to institute critical safe work practices required under OSHA’s Process Safety Management standard and ensure workers used appropriate respiratory protection and personal protective equipment. The employer also failed to perform air monitoring to assess chemical exposures, provide written procedures that clearly identify the required levels of respiratory protection, and communicate to workers the hazards associated with the chemicals.
The company was cited for nine serious fines and one willful violation. It faces more than $230k in proposed penalties.
“Two families will enter 2022 without their loved ones and one family will have the long-lasting memory of a frightening and serious illness. This tragic event should serve as a lesson for all employers to ensure effective safety protocols are established before initiating maintenance activities involving chemical processing equipment and systems.”
Area Director, Ramona Morris – Birmingham, Alabama