OSHA has agreed to reduce Formosa Plastics Corporation’s penalty from $361,500 to $300,000 in a settlement of citations the agency issued after an explosion at the company's Illiopolis, Ill., plant last April took the lives of five workers.

In return, Formosa agreed to employ at least one independent, qualified consultant with expertise in chemical process safety management to work with design engineers on a new Formosa facility and to work with software engineers to reduce the possibility of human error at a new plant now under consideration by the company. Many of OSHA's citations issued after the investigation centered on process safety management deficiencies.

OSHA’s Chicago regional administrator Michael G. Connors said he was “pleased that these advances can be made immediately instead of waiting for months or longer for litigation to be completed.” He added that it was doubtful this kind of progress could have been made solely by litigating the matter.

The company also agreed to retain a process safety management specialist to assist with training Formosa workers on safety at a new plant. Formosa will also conduct audits at its other polyvinyl chloride manufacturing facilities to determine if hazards similar to those identified by OSHA in Illiopolis exist elsewhere. The audits will be performed by persons outside the facility being audited.

Along with the reduced monetary penalty, OSHA changed seven of 43 serious citations to other-than-serious and reclassified willful citations to unclassified. Formosa Plastics has also withdrawn its Notice of Contest before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.