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DuPont Safety Practices Under Increased Scrutiny

DuPont logoAfter an initial investigation into four deaths at a DuPont chemical plant in La Porte, Texas, last November, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found hazards that prompted it to take a deeper look into the safety practices at the facility.

As a result of the second inspection, OSHA issued citations to DuPont on July 9 for three willful, one repeat and four serious violations at its La Porte chemical manufacturing plant. The agency has proposed penalties of $273,000 for these new violations.

According to EHS Today, DuPont issued a statement saying that the latest round of OSHA citations are the result of a review of the herbicide and hydrofluoric acid (HF) units at the La Porte site, which was undergoing an in-house process safety management assessment at the time of the OSHA inspection. DuPont has shut down the herbicide unit while it implements corrective safety measures.

OSHA has placed DuPont in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The program concentrates resources on inspecting employers who have demonstrated indifference toward creating a safe and healthy workplace by committing willful or repeated violations, and/or failing to abate known hazards. It also mandates follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.

In its investigation of the November 2014 fatalities, OSHA discovered eight serious and one repeat violation at the DuPont facility and assessed a penalty of $99,000. The company has contested the citations. In addition, the company was cited at its Darrow, Louisiana, facility in November 2014 and Deepwater, New Jersey, facility in December 2014 for similar process safety management violations.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director in Houston South or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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