Company cited for multiple safety failings before the fatal incident

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined speciality chemical company MFG Chemical nearly $90,000 (£59,000) after a worker died when hazardous vapours released from an overpressurised reactor burned his respiratory system. A second employee was hospitalised in the incident.

After a previous inspection of MFG in 2012, OSHA issued 19 serious citations to the company for weaknesses in process safety standards. For example, MFG failed to ensure that the reactor alarm system provided early warning for worker evacuation, and could not guarantee that manufacturing equipment had adequate pressure-relief systems.

‘MFG continues to violate OSHA standards, exposing workers to serious hazards associated with process safety management,’ said Christi Griffin, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-West office. ‘Allowing repeated violations demonstrates the company’s lack of commitment to worker safety and health.’

Department of Labor spokesman Lindsay Williams says the fine levied against MFG is appropriate, including some increased fines for repeated offences. ‘I wouldn’t say that it is small or large, but within the range of what they statutorily are able to cite,’ he says. OSHA will follow up to monitor MFG’s progress in improving safety, and if necessary could pursue criminal charges, he adds.