OSHA found several deficiencies in the plant's process safety management program, a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must follow to address proactively hazards associated with processes and equipment involving large amounts of hazardous chemicals. In this case, the chemical was n-pentane, an organic compound used in the manufacturing process. The cited deficiencies included missing process safety information, failing to develop and implement safe work practices, correct equipment deficiencies, follow up on the findings of compliance audits, address all hazards identified during a process hazard analysis, and document the resolution of corrective actions. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
"The stringent and comprehensive requirements of OSHA's process safety management standard are designed to prevent catastrophic incidents, such as the uncontrolled release of highly hazardous chemicals," said Kimberly Castillon, OSHA's area director in Albany. "The safety and well-being of employees requires full, effective and proactive adherence to the standard's requirements by the employer."
OSHA's inspection also identified deficiencies in the plant's emergency response, confined space and hazardous energy control programs, lack of personal protective equipment, accumulation of combustible dust, as well as fall and respirator hazards.
"One method of enhancing workers' safety is for an employer to develop and maintain an effective illness and injury prevention program in which management and employees work together to identify and prevent hazardous conditions," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.