The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Solvay Specialty Polymers for 12 violations, mainly for exposing workers to chemical hazards from solvents used at its Marietta plant. OSHA has proposed penalties of $77,000.
“The plant needs to ensure all equipment and processes receive the proper evaluation and scrutiny before the use of these highly hazardous chemicals. Workers must be trained to handle these chemicals safely,” said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA’s area director in Columbus. “Process safety management programs are designed to prevent the catastrophic release of highly hazardous chemicals and to prevent workers from being exposed to these harmful chemicals.”
The inspection was initiated following a referral from the National Response Center due to an incident involving a methyl chloride release at the plant on July 18, 2013. The plant produces polymer pellets used in the production of items, such as plumbing, electrical connectors, medical devices and fuel filters.
One repeat violation was cited for failing to follow recognized good engineering practices. The company failed to resolve data for storage tanks when changes in measurements occurred over previous readings.
A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited 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. The same violation at this facility was cited in March 2012.
Eleven serious violations were issued, and all were related to OSHA’s Process Safety Management Standard. The citations included violations of process safety information, process hazard analysis and mechanical integrity. Employee exposure to methyl chloride and monochlorobenzene were found during the inspection. When inhaled, the two chemicals can cause damage to the central nervous system.
Process safety management encompasses a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must follow to address hazards proactively that are associated with processes and equipment that use threshold quantities of hazardous chemicals. OSHA’s standards contain specific requirements for the management of hazards associated with processes using dangerous chemicals.
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.
Solvay Specialty Polymers USA LLC has 270 employees at the Marietta facility and 2,945 employees nationwide under the Solvay Group. Solvay Specialty is headquartered in Bollate, Italy.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s Columbus Area Office, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Columbus Area Office at 614-469-5582.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.