The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Dover Chemical Co. for 47 health and safety violations, including four willful violations, after an unexpected release of hazardous materials led to the temporary shutdown of the company's Dover plant and an adjacent highway in May.

Although no injuries were reported as a result of the incident, OSHA opened an investigation focused on the agency's standards for process safety management (PSM) at facilities that use highly hazardous chemicals. Proposed fines total $545,000.

The release of materials resulted from a breach of a polyvinyl-chloride piping system. Due to the nature of the hazards and the willful violations cited, Dover Chemical has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.

"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 occupational safety and health. "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 willful violations all related to PSM and included 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.

The Dover facility employs about 175 workers and produces chlorinated paraffins, additives for flame-resistant products, and other additives for the plastic, rubber coating, adhesive and textile product industries. The facility has been inspected by OSHA four other times since 2007, resulting in earlier citations for four violations.

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

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.