A Point Comfort, Texas-based petrochemical company's alleged failure to protect employees from flash fire hazards has resulted in proposed penalties totaling $148,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
OSHA cited Formosa Plastics Corp. with one willful and 13 serious violations following a fire and explosion at the company's Formosa Drive plant that resulted in 12 people being injured, four of whom were hospitalized with severe burns.
"OSHA has inspected Formosa Plastics numerous times for many of the same violations," said John Giefer, OSHA's area director in Corpus Christi. "If the company had followed OSHA standards, it is possible that the injuries sustained by these workers could have been avoided."
The willful citation was issued for failure to provide employees with flame resistant clothing for protection against flash fire hazards. A willful violation is one committed with intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Alleged serious violations included failing to: safeguard employees from open manholes; repair stairways to avoid fall hazards; fireproof steel support structures; complete a process safety analysis to address ignition sources; follow safety practices regarding highly flammable liquids; protect employees from electrical hazards. A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Formosa Plastics Corp., which manufactures plastics, is headquartered in Livingston, N.J. The company employs about 4,500 workers nationwide, about 1,800 of whom work at the Point Comfort facility.