The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations July 9 to DuPont for three willful, one repeat and four serious violations at their chemical manufacturing plant in La Porte, Texas, where four workers died in November 2014.
OSHA has proposed penalties of $273,000 for these new violations.
"DuPont promotes itself as having a ‘world-class safety’ culture and even markets its safety expertise to other employers, but these four preventable workplace deaths and the very serious hazards we uncovered at this facility are evidence of a failed safety program," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.
After the initial investigation into the four deaths at the La Porte chemical manufacturing facility due to the accidental release of more than 20,000 lbs. of methyl mercaptan, a chemical commonly used to odorize natural gas for safety purposes, OSHA found hazards that prompted the inspection at the facility to be expanded under the National Emphasis Program for chemical facilities, which led to this week’s citations.
OSHA has also placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The program concentrates resources on inspecting employers who have demonstrated indifference toward creating a safe and healthy workplace by committing willful or repeated violations, and/or failing to abate known hazards. It also mandates follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.
A complete list of the citations from the expanded inspection under the emphasis program is on OSHA’s website.
"Nothing can bring these workers back to their loved ones. I hope that our continued scrutiny into this facility and into working conditions at other DuPont plants will mean no family ever suffers this loss again. We here at OSHA want DuPont and the chemical industry as a whole to hear this message loud and clear," Michaels said.
Headquartered in Delaware, DuPont was cited in May for eight serious and one repeat violation regarding the fatalities with a penalty of $99,000. The company has contested the citations. In addition, the company was cited at their Darrow, Louisiana facility in November 2014 and Deepwater, New Jersey facility in December 2014 for similar process safety management violations.
DuPont employs about 63,000 people with operations in about 90 countries globally. The La Porte location employs 313 workers who manufacture pesticides and other chemicals for the company.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director in Houston South, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.