La. worker burned in chemical fire; company cited
A chemical fire that left an employee at a flavoring manufacturing facility led to 19 serious safety and health violations against Carol Callahan, doing business as Natural Advantage.
The incident occurred in August 2013 at the company’s Oakdale, Louisiana facility. Proposed penalties total $91,000.
"Natural Advantage violated various OSHA standards that, when followed, can protect workers from exposure to hazardous chemicals," said Dorinda Folse, OSHA's area director in Baton Rouge. "Employers must find and fix hazards to ensure the safety and well-being of their workforce."
OSHA's Baton Rouge Area Office cited serious health violations regarding overexposure to methylene chloride, including failing to institute and maintain effective engineering controls and work practices to reduce airborne concentrations of methylene chloride below the permissible exposure limits; provide each worker with an appropriate respirator, as required by the methylene chloride standard; and implement procedures to detect chemical leaks and make medical surveillance available. Additionally, respiratory hazards were not evaluated, and an appropriately trained worker did not administer the respiratory program.
The company was also issued a hazard alert letter for overexposing workers to airborne concentrations of methyl mercaptan that exceeded the established threshold limit values determined by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.
The company also exposed workers to numerous safety violations involving the hazards of flammable liquids and reactive chemicals, including failing to ensure the proper construction of a flammable storage room; ensure that flammable liquids, such as toluene and hexane were appropriately dispensed with an approved pump or self-closing faucet; and ensure water- reactive chemicals, such as butyryl chloride and diphosphorus pentasulfide, were not stored along with flammable liquids. Workers were not provided with training regarding flammable liquids and chemicals; an emergency response plan; and assured access to an emergency shower for potential exposure to sodium hydroxide and propionic acid.
Natural Advantage, which employs about 90 workers, began as a research laboratory and then expanded into a chemical manufacturing facility of different food and drink flavorings. It also operates a production facility in Lakeland, Fla.