US cites French Arkema for safety violations at Houston plant

11 July 2012 18:26  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Arkema with 12 serious violations for exposing workers to safety hazards at a chemical plant in Houston, it said on Wednesday.

In addition, OSHA cited the France-based chemical producer for a repeat violation and non-serious violation, it said.

OSHA is proposing to fine Arkema $117,100 (€96,022) for the violations. The company has 15 business days to comply, to request an informal conference with OSHA, or to contest the citations and penalties, OSHA said.

The administration’s Houston office initiated an inspection of the plant in January after receiving an employee complaint, it said.

The serious violations include failing to compile process safety information on instruments used as safeguards and on relief system design, ensure that recognised and good engineering practices are used, follow recommended process hazard analysis procedures and inspect and test equipment identified as safeguards, OSHA said.

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, it said.

The repeat violation was for failing to review and certify operating procedures on an annual basis, and the “other-than-serious violation” was for failing to develop safe work practices to control entrance into covered processes, OSHA said.

“It’s vital that Arkema ensure that safeguards are in place to protect the safety of workers at this facility,” said David Doucet, director of OSHA’s Houston North Area Office.

A media official at Arkema’s US offices in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to OSHA, Arkema employs about 2,400 workers at 32 chemical plant in the Americas.

($1 = €0.82)

By: Stefan Baumgarten
+1 713 525 2653

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