Neurological damage, blindness, and severe burns are all potential risks when working in a chemical production facility. Most employers take the necessary precautions to protect their workers, but once in a while, there are those employers that forfeit employee safety for a cushioned bottom line. Diversified CPC International Inc., a chemical manufacturer based out of Channahon, Illinois, was recently cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for numerous violations of the organization’s process safety management, which will cost the firm $73,500 in proposed penalties.
That safety management standard requires employers to develop, implement, and update safety management programs for hazardous chemicals. Diversified’s Sparta, NJ branch failed to do so, with violations stemming from their use of liquefied petroleum gases, fluorocarbons, and dimethyl ether. Despite OSHA’s victory in Sparta, the agency has had its hands tied when it comes to regulating facilities using extremely hazardous chemicals.
“OSHA itself has said many times they don’t have the resources to go around inspecting all of the places that need inspecting,” exclaimed Sandy Gilmour of the Chemical Safety Board.
Too often, OSHA has to rely on the EPA’s lists (which amount to guesswork) on the chemicals present at certain factories. They also lack the resources to do more than three or four thorough inspections a year at these dangerous facilities leaving room for employers to clean their act up when an OSHA representative comes knocking on their door.
With a shortage of resources, the responsibility for employee safety falls entirely on the employer. Here are some ways to protect your employees from future injury, and to ensure that your business remains afloat.
- Develop and implement written procedures for mechanical integrity and operating procedures, so employees are informed on how to conduct themselves safely.
- Do a hazard analysis and have an emergency action plan.
- Keep tabs on equipment and make sure it is working properly.
- Complete a compliance audit.
- Certify operating procedures are current and accurate annually.
- Complete accurate piping and instrument diagrams.
- Make sure your relief system design and design basis are included in information about certain equipment.