Last month, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) paid a visit to Solvay Specialty Polymers USA, LLC, and it cost the facility $115,000. OSHA inspected the facility as part of its national effort to emphasize safety within chemical facilities and stop them from exposing workers to chemical hazards. According to OSHA’s report, the plant was cited for multiple federal process safety management (PSM) regulations and eight serious workplace safety violations, including:
- Failing to develop written procedures for process equipment maintenance
- Incomplete equipment safety information
- Failure to inspect and test the process equipment
- Failure to follow OSHA’s procedures on managing changes made to process chemicals, equipment, technology and facilities
- Failure to respond to a previous compliance audit (which resulted in repeat safety violations)
OSHA focused its inspection particularly on workplace exposure to vinylidene fluoride, which is a liquefied flammable gas used and made at Solvay Specialty Polymers plant. The gas can cause explosions, frostbite, skin irritation, lung irritation and liver damage over time.
Workplace Safety is a “Team Effort,” According to OSHA
Since the Occupational Safety and Health Act passed in 1970, employers have a responsibility to their workers to provide safe working conditions. This is especially true for chemical plants that deal with particularly harmful chemicals. Solvay Specialty Polymers and other chemical plants must enforce OSHA’s safety standards, give workers proper training, provide the proper safety gear and educate employees on how to recognize the risks associated with each duty.
On the other hand, workers can also play a role in workplace safety by:
- Understanding the hazards of mixing, separating and storing chemical processing materials
- Being aware of equipment operation, maintenance requirements and knowing when to speak up if something seems unusual or out of place
- Understanding the process, following all procedures and keeping up-to-date with any procedure changes
- Reporting all incidents
Spevack Law Firm is a New Jersey workers’ compensation law firm that fights for workers injured on the job in the Iselin, New Brunswick and Teaneck areas. The injury attorneys at our firm have been helping injury victims since 1928.