The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations and proposed penalties to Formosa Plastics Corp. of Illiopolis, Illnois, following its investigation into an April 23 explosion that took the lives of five workers, seriously injured three others and destroyed much of the facility.
“Strong enforcement is a key part of this Administration’s efforts to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. “The significant penalty of $361,500 in this case demonstrates our commitment to protecting the health and safety of American workers.”
OSHA issued citations for 45 alleged serious violations and three alleged willful violations of federal workplace safety and health regulations. Serious violations included allegations of a wide range of hazards associated with control of flammable liquid and ignition sources, insufficient worker training, electrical and lockout/tagout hazards, insufficient training on emergency response, organization, and equipping of fire brigade personnel, among others.
The alleged willful violations charged the company with failing to maintain fire protection equipment, failing to replace or repair defective equipment used in highly hazardous chemical processes, and inadequate inspections and tests of equipment used in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals.
Formosa Plastic employed some 136 workers in Illiopolis prior to the blast and approximately 4,000 workers company-wide. Formosa purchased the Illiopolis facility in 2002 and had no previous OSHA inspections.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to appeal before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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