King of Prussia, PA-based Arkema Inc. is facing $117,100 in fines for 12 serious, one repeat and one other-than-serious violations for exposing workers to multiple safety hazards while producing organic chemicals at the company’s Houston facility, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
An inspection of the Haden Road plant started in January after receiving an employee complaint, and OSHA’s Houston North Area Office later expanded the inspection under the agency’s process safety management national emphasis program for preventing or minimizing the catastrophic release of toxic, reactive, flammable or explosive chemicals.
Arkema employs 2,400 workers who produce industrial chemicals at 32 facilities in the United States and Canada, Mexico and Brazil.
The serious violations include failing to compile process safety information on instruments used as safeguards and on relief system design, ensure the company uses recognized and good engineering practices, follow recommended process hazard analysis procedures, and inspect and test equipment identified as safeguards. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The repeat violation is for failing to review and certify operating procedures on an annual basis to ensure the company is following current practices. A repeat violation exists when an employer suffers a citation for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. They had a similar violation in 2010.
The other-than-serious violation is for failing to develop safe work practices to control entrance into covered processes. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
“Process safety management prevents the unexpected release of toxic, reactive or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals,” said David Doucet, director of OSHA’s Houston North Area Office. “It’s vital that Arkema ensure that safeguards are in place to protect the safety of workers at this facility.”