Safety and OSHA News

Worker dies after being sprayed with heated chemical

OSHA has issued 23 violations to Haverhill Chemicals in connection with a worker’s death at its Ohio plant. Many of the violations involve OSHA’s Process Safety Management Standards.

The employee, identified as 61-year-old Jim Morrison according to WSAZ-TV, suffered fatal injuries on April 4 while clearing a blockage in a drain line to a reactor.

An expansion joint failed and caused a thermally heated chemical mixture to spew onto the employee.

Bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, was the predominant chemical in the mixture which also contained hydrochloric acid.

Family members who spoke to WSAZ-TV say on the day of his death, Morrison wasn’t working at his usual site and had gone to help fix the pipe that ended up bursting.

The family members also say that several years ago, Morrison’s brother was also injured at the Haverhill plant.

OSHA fined Haverhill $134,00, saying it failed to:

  • ensure misaligned pipes and expansion joints were repaired properly
  • ensure adequate safety shields were installed before placing the reactor back in service
  • develop procedures for normal and emergency shutdown of the BPA reactor
  • address hazards for expansion joint failure
  • develop written procedures to maintain equipment used to process chemicals during maintenance
  • train workers to install flexible expansion joints and associated equipment
  • conduct required inspections
  • maintain accurate inspection records
  • provide personal protective equipment (PPE), including clothing, boots, safety goggles and head coverings, and
  • train workers to identify and handle hazardous chemicals.

OSHA also placed Haverhill in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which concentrates on inspecting employers that have demonstrated indifference to their Occupational Safety and Health Act obligations by willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations. Companies in the SVEP can count on return inspections by OSHA.

“A long-term employee, preparing to retire and spend more time with his loved ones, lost his life in a preventable tragedy,” said Nick Walters, OSHA’s regional director in Chicago. “A worker who dedicated his life to a job should never lose that life to that job.”

Haverhill has 15 business days from receipt of the OSHA citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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