Solvent Spill Exposes Employer's Lack of Preparation

Employees of R+L Carriers were forced to avert an explosion and fire, among other dangers

OSHA has found two repeated and four serious violations of workplace safety standards by R+L Carriers Shared Service LLC after employees faced dangerous chemical, fire and explosion hazards as they tried to contain a highly flammable and explosive chemical spill without proper training and personal protective equipment (PPE), according to a news release.

The company faces $86,900 in fines after similar hazards were cited by OSHA in 2011 at an R+L terminal in Chicago.

"These workers were essentially defenseless. They did not know how to evaluate the hazards involved, what personal protective equipment to use and what steps to follow to contain the spill safely. Worse, no one present at the terminal did," said Robert Kowalski, OSHA's area director in Bridgeport. "These deficiencies in emergency response by R+L Carriers put its employees at risk of death or serious injury."

An investigation found that a forklift was being used to move a pallet of tetrahydrofuran, a highly flammable liquid, from one truck to another when a drum containing the liquid was punctured accidentally. The OSHA investigation found that the terminal’s management lacked an emergency response plan and had not trained employees as first responders.

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