Chemical Manufacturer Hit with Penalties after Forcing Residential Evacuation

OSHA has cited Indspec Chemical Corp. for alleged safety and health violations and proposed $121,500 in penalties. The Petrolia, Pa.-based company manufactures industrial organic chemicals and employs about 260 workers. OSHA initiated its investigation on Oct. 11, 2008, after being notified of a chemical release at the company's facility that resulted in the evacuation of residents living within a three-mile radius. As a result, the agency issued citations for 27 serious violations.

The serious violations--issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard--address items associated with process safety management, hazardous waste operations, and emergency response, including the company's failure to identify all of the causal factors of the incident during the investigation, failure to secure employee input on process safety management operating procedures, failure to provide employees with proper respiratory protection, inadequate process hazard analyses, inaccurate and ambiguous operating procedures, inadequate training, and a deficient emergency response plan.

"OSHA's process safety management regulations are designed to prevent the kind of chemical release that occurred at Indspec," says Frank Librich, acting director of OSHA's Pittsburgh Area Office. "It is vital that the company immediately take the necessary steps to correct these hazards to prevent any future accidents."

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

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