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Chemical Release Draws $545K Fine

Friday, November 30, 2012

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An Ohio chemical plant has been slapped with 47 federal health and safety violations and a $545,000 fine stemming from an unexpected release of hazardous materials in May.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the citations and proposed fine this week against Dover Chemical Co., a major manufacturer of chemical additives for a variety of industrial and household applications.

The company's main plant, in Dover, OH, had to be temporarily shut down on May 21, 2012, along with north and soutbound lanes of Interstate 77, when a breach of a polyvinyl chloride piping system led to the release of hazardous materials into the air.

After the chemical release, local residents were advised to stay inside and close their windows. Two drivers had to be taken to nearby hospitals after complaining of respiratory problems from the fumes.

OSHA issued 47 citations and has proposed a $545,000 fine against Dover Chemical Co. for an unexpected chemical release in May.

Severe Violator

The violations have landed the company in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.

The enforcement program "focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations." Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities.

OSHA has inspected the facility four other times since 2007, resulting in earlier citations for four violations.

'Egregious' Violations Uncovered

After the May accident, OSHA conducted a three-month inspection of the facility and opened an investigation focused on the agency's standards for process safety management (PSM).

"By disregarding OSHA's common-sense regulations, this employer endangered the health and safety of the facility's workers," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. "While I'm grateful that nobody was injured from the incident, I'm alarmed by the egregious nature of the violations we uncovered during our inspection."

The four willful violations—ones committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to woker safety and health—are all related to PSM. They include:

  • Failing to correct deficiencies found in compliance audits;
  • Not resolving recommendations identified during a process hazard analysis;
  • Having operating procedures that do not include the consequences for deviation or the steps required to correct or avoid deviation from operating limits; and
  • Process safety information that does not detail the construction materials used for piping and piping system components.
Dover Chemical Co.

OSHA has inspected the Ohio plant four other times since 2007, resulting in earlier citations for four other violations.

Thirty serious violations also relate to PSM. Serious violations occur when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard the employer knew or should have known about. Some of these violations include:

  • Inaccurate operating procedures;
  • Inadequate information about the hazardous effects of inadvertently mixing different chemicals, safe upper and lower limits for operating parameters, and the lack of chemical reactivity data;
  • Failing to include system design codes and standards;
  • Failing to train employees about PSM;
  • Not documenting that equipment complies with recognized good engineering practices;
  • Not performing inspections and tests on process equipment; and
  • Failing to correct deficiencies noted during equipment inspections.

An additional 11 serious violations include allegations of:

  • Unguarded wall and floor openings;
  • Failure to test aerial lift controls before use;
  • Allowing untrained individuals to operate lifts;
  • Not developing energy control procedures for the maintenance and servicing of equipment; and
  • Electrical hazards.

Two other-than-serious violations were issued for not certifying personal protective equipment hazard assessments and not certifying whether powered industrial vehicle training was conducted.

Other-than-serious violations are defined as those with a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

Dover's Response

The company issued a statement in response to the citations and has requested an informal meeting with OSHA representatives.

"Dover has been conducting internal safety audits and working with outside experts for several years to insure that the processes conducted at its facilities are safe," the statement said in part.

"Prior to receiving these citations, Dover had already resolved many action items identified during its most recent safety inspections, has already abated some items contained in the citations, and is in the process of addressing other safety-related issues."

As part of the company's abatement process, Dover must provide process information about its piping and operating procedures to OSHA and is required to complete action items from its regular safety audits and hazards analysis more quickly.

Dover said in a statement that it had already abated some of the violations cited.

Dover has 15 days from receipt of the citations to contest some or all of them.

About the Company

Dover Chemical Co., a subsidiary of New York-based ICC Industries Inc., employs about 175 employees at its Ohio facility, where it produces chrlorinated paraffins and other additives for the plastic, rubber coating, adhesive, and textile product industries.

Dover also operates a facility in Hammond, IN, where it uses similar procedures and employs 86 workers.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Citations; Dover Chemical Corp.; Health and safety; OSHA

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