June 01, 2015

OSHA gives DuPont a 50 percent discount on penalty for death of four workers

Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH of Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University for The Pump Handle

Last week OSHA announced citations and proposed a $99,000 penalty against DuPont for safety violations related to the November 2014 incident that killed four employees at its LaPorte, TX chemical plant. Wade Baker, 60, Gibby Tisnado, 48, Robert Tisnado, 39, and Crystal Wise, 53 were asphyxiated by methyl mercaptan because of gross failures in DuPont’s systems to manage highly hazardous chemicals. OSHA’s proposed penalty stems from one repeat, nine serious, and one other-than-serious violation.

What baffles me is why OSHA didn’t propose the $70,000 maximum for the repeat violation. OSHA gave DuPont a 50 percent discount, proposing only a $35,000 for the repeat violation. And this was not just any repeat violation. DuPont’s failure at the LaPorte plant was identified by OSHA in 2010 as a contributing factor in the death of another DuPont worker, Carl “Danny” Fish, 58. Fish worked at the company’s facility in Belle, WV. As the Charleston Gazette’s Ken Ward, Jr. reported, Fish was sprayed with phosgene—a compound used as poison gas during World War I—a building block chemical used at the Belle, WV plant. In both the 2010 fatality and the 2014 fatalities, OSHA concluded that DuPont failed to ensure that each employee involved in operating a process be trained on the safety and health hazards of the process, safe work practices, and emergency operations ((1910.119(g)(1)(i)). ... more

Posted In: Health and Safety

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