Chemical Maker Fined for Fatality

Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 05:10 PM gHale

Following the death of an employee, Haverhill Chemicals LLC is facing $134,000 in fines for 21 serious and two other-than-serious safety violations at its plant in Haverhill, OH, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Houston-based Haverhill Chemicals began operating the former Sunoco Inc. site in Haverhill on Nov. 1, 2011, with a workforce of 170 employees.

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A majority of the violations involve OSHA’s Process Safety Management Standards, which contain specific requirements for managing highly hazardous chemicals used in work. In addition to the fines, the company is now on the OSHA Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

OSHA’s investigation found a 61-year-old employee suffered fatal injuries April 4, while clearing a blockage on the drain line to a reactor. An expansion joint failed and caused a thermally heated chemical mixture to spew onto the employee. The mixture predominately contained Bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, and hydrochloric acid, acetone and phenol, used in the manufacture of resins, flame retardants and coatings.

“Haverhill Chemicals has a responsibility to ensure the safety of its workers by ensuring equipment used to carry highly hazardous chemicals is properly installed and maintained,” said Nick Walters, OSHA’s regional director in Chicago. “A long-term employee, preparing to retire and spend more time with his loved ones, lost his life in a preventable tragedy. A worker who dedicated his life to a job should never lose that life to that job.”

The inspection found Haverhill Chemical plant officials failed to ensure misaligned pipes and expansion joints ended up repaired properly and adequate safety shields installed before placing the reactor back in service. The company also failed to develop procedures for normal and emergency shutdown of the BPA reactor; address hazards for expansion joint failure; develop written procedures to maintain equipment used to process chemicals during maintenance; and train workers to install flexible expansion joints and associated equipment properly.

In addition, the company failed to conduct required inspections and maintain accurate inspection records; provide personal protective equipment, including clothing, boots, safety goggles and head coverings; and train workers to identify and handle hazardous chemicals.

An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

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