OSHA Cites Okla. Facility Following Chemical Spill; 18 People Sent to Hospital

March 1, 2005

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations to Valmont Coatings-Oklahoma Galvanizing in Claremore, Okla., and proposed penalties totaling $126,000 for safety and health violations which sent 18 employees to the hospital.

Valmont Coatings-Oklahoma Galvanizing, a hot-dip galvanizing business, is owned by Valmont Industries Inc., headquartered in Omaha. Neb. The company employs more than 3000 workers, about 100 are located in Claremore. Following an inspection that began Aug. 31, OSHA cited the company for one alleged willful and eight alleged serious violations for exposing employees to sulfuric acid during a clean up spill from the rupture of a storage tank.

The alleged willful violation was issued for failing to provide personal protective equipment to employees who responded to the acid spill. A willful citation is issued by OSHA when an employer either knew that a condition constituted a violation or was aware that a hazardous condition existed and made no reasonable effort to correct it.

The alleged serious citations included failing to ensure that the premises were free from hazardous conditions such as exposure to concentrated sulfuric acid or being struck-by debris caused by the leakage and/or rupture of a storage tank operating under pressure; failing to develop and implement an emergency response plan; failing to assure the senior emergency response official took charge of the situation at the site when the spill occurred; and failing to train employees in emergency response operations.

OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Valmont Industries has reportedly had numerous inspections in past years, one of which resulted in proposed penalties of $20,000 when an employee died in Valley, Neb., after being crushed by a stamper machine in July 1996. Violations involved machine guarding and control of hazardous energy.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Oklahoma City area office, or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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