The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued chemical maker Diakin America Inc. a proposed fine of $232,103 after two workers died and a third was injured during an incident at the firm’s manufacturing facility in Alabama.
An agency investigation determined that three chemical operators were exposed to toxic fluorocarbon and other hazardous chemicals at the plant on July 2, 2021, according to a release distributed Monday. Three workers experienced respiratory failure and were hospitalized. Two of the employees died.
OSHA found that the exposure happened as the workers were carrying out maintenance work that required a processing line break, a nitrogen purge, and atmospheric venting of the equipment. The agency said Diakin America failed to put critical safe work practices in place as required under OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) standard. Diakin America also failed to provide appropriate respiratory protection and personal protective equipment.
The investigation also revealed that the company did not perform air monitoring to assess chemical exposures, provide written procedures that identify the required level of respiratory protection, and communicate to workers the hazards linked to the chemicals.
“Two families will enter 2022 without their loved ones and one family will have the long-lasting memory of a frightening and serious illness,” OSHA Area Director Ramona Morris in Birmingham, AL said in a statement. “This tragic event should serve as a lesson for all employers to ensure effective safety protocols are established before initiating maintenance activities involving chemical processing equipment and systems.”
Daikin America received nine serious and one willful violation. The company has 15 business days after receiving the citations to comply, contest the findings before an independent panel, or request an informal conference with an OSHA area director.