Great Lakes Chemical Corp. is facing $122,000 in fines for 18 serious safety violations at the company’s El Dorado, AK, facility for exposing workers to the unexpected release of bromine, said Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials.
OSHA’s Little Rock Area Office initiated an inspection in December under the agency’s Process Safety Management Covered Chemical Facilities National Emphasis Program, which is there to reduce or eliminate workplace hazards associated with the catastrophic release of highly hazardous chemicals.
Process safety management standard violations include the company’s failing to ensure its process hazard analysis addresses hazards involved with valves being closed or blocked; develop procedures to ensure levels are correctly established for pressure vessels and piping; and ensure the compliance audit addresses procedures to assess the mechanical integrity of pressure vessels and piping. Additionally, the company failed to ensure ladder-way platform openings used standard railings. 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.
“By failing to ensure that safeguards are in place, Great Lakes Chemical puts its workers at risk of exposure to bromine, a highly hazardous chemical that can cause severe burns to the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory system,” said Carlos Reynolds, OSHA’s area director in Little Rock. “Process safety management procedures must be followed to prevent the unexpected release of toxic, reactive or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals.”
Great Lakes Chemical manufactures bromine fufural specialty chemicals and alkyl leads. The company employs 4,000 workers nationwide, with about 270 at its facility in El Dorado.