US Westlake cited for alleged health, safety violations

21 September 2012 00:01  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US chlor-alkali producer Westlake was cited for several alleged safety and health violations at its Geismar complex in Louisiana, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said on Thursday.

Westlake’s vinyls subsidiary was cited for 10 “serious” health and safety violations, primarily related to process safety management standards at its polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) facility.

“This company exposed its employees to avoidable workplace hazards that can cause serious injury and possible death,” OSHA area acting director Jack Turner said in a prepared statement.

The agency has proposed $67,000 in penalties stemming from the alleged violations.

OSHA said it found that employees at the Geismar plant were exposed to the potential of over-pressurised process equipment during operations.

The alleged violations included failing to provide accurate process safety information for piping and instrument diagrams; not using appropriate detection methodologies in the process hazard analysis and failing to properly complete emergency shutdown procedures; not repairing or maintain pressure-relieving devices, among others.

A “serious violation” is one that occurs when “there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard which the employer knew or should have known” OSHA said.

A Westlake representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On 22 March, a fire broke out during the start-up of a VCM column at the company’s Geismar plant, but did not result in any deaths or serious injuries.

The company later said in public filings that an unprecedented and unforeseeable confluence of events led to the fire and that it should not be fined by Louisiana state officials.

The OSHA statement did not indicate whether its investigation was directly related to the fire.


By: Ken Fountain



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