Four Workers Dead Resulting From Missed Safety Precautions
22 June 2015No Comments
A U.S. Department of Labor investigation has determined that four workers killed by a lethal gas in November 2014, would be alive today had their employer, DuPont, taken the proper steps to protect them. The department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently cited DuPont for 11 safety violations and identified scores of safety upgrades the company must undertake to prevent future accidents at its Lannate? API manufacturing building in La Porte, Texas. The company employs 313 workers who manufacture crop protection materials and chemicals at the facility.
EMPLOYER NEGLIGENCE TO BLAME FOR DEATHS
Assistant Secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels said, “Four people lost their lives and their families lost loved ones because DuPont did not have proper safety procedures in place. Had the company assessed the dangers involved, or trained their employees on what to do if the ventilation system stopped working, they might have had a chance.” The fatal incident occurred when one worker was overwhelmed when methyl mercaptan gas was unexpectedly released when she opened a drain on a methyl mercaptan vent line. Two co-workers who came to her aid were also overcome. None of the three wore protective respirators. A fourth co-worker- the brother of one of the fallen men- attempted a rescue, but was unsuccessful. All four people died in the building.
Methyl mercaptan is a colorless gas with a strong odor. It is used in pesticides, jet fuels, and plastics. At dangerous levels of exposure, the gas depresses the central nervous system and affects the respiratory center, producing death by respiratory paralysis. DuPont is being cited for one repeat, nine serious, and one other than serious OSHA violations. The repeat violation was assessed for not training employees on using the building’s ventilation system and other safety procedures, such as how to respond if the fans stopped working.
This is not the first time the company has been cited. In July 2010, OSHA cited DuPont for a similar violation. OSHA fined the company $99,000, and gave the company 15 business days from the receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s director in Houston, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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If you are injured at work, whether you are a gas or oil employee or not, you are entitled to worker’s compensation. If this happens to you, you should immediately inform your employer as well as being the application for worker’s compensation. Worker’s compensation will provide for your medical expenses as well as a portion of your wages. OSHA requires that companies always train and educate workers about the risks if they are working close to compressed gases. If you or a loved one have recently been the victim of an oil or gas accident, contact our attorneys today.