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Region 3 News Release: 10-949-PHI(osha 10-154)
July 19, 2010
Contact: Leni Fortson
Phone: 215-861-5102
Email: uddyback-fortson.lenore@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA cites DuPont for exposing workers
to hazardous chemicals following a fatal accident at the Belle, W.Va., plant

BELLE, W.Va. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited DuPont for exposing employees to hazardous chemicals following a fatal workplace incident in January at the company's Belle, W.Va., plant.

OSHA initiated an investigation in January when a worker was exposed to a fatal amount of phosgene due to a ruptured hose. The investigation was subsequently expanded to cover two additional chemical releases that occurred at the plant involving oleum and hexazinone, as part of OSHA's National Emphasis Program on Process Safety Management at covered chemical facilities.

"OSHA's process safety management standard requires that companies anticipate the possible hazards associated with processes involving highly hazardous chemicals like phosgene and oleum," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "Workers are left vulnerable to life-threatening or permanent injuries and illness when these processes are not done in a thorough and comprehensive way."

As a result of the investigation, OSHA has cited DuPont with six serious violations including the company's failure to properly inspect piping used to transfer phosgene, perform a thorough process hazard analysis for its phosgene operation, train workers on hazards associated with phosgene, thoroughly inspect all high-risk sections of piping used to transfer oleum, and properly install energized electrical conductors. OSHA issues a serious citation when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard the employer knew or should have known about.

The company was also cited for five o