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Formosa accepts OSHA penalty for September flash fire

By Elena Watts
April 24, 2014 at 4 p.m.
Updated April 23, 2014 at 11:24 p.m.


• A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. OSHA may propose a mandatory penalty up to $7,000 for each serious violation.

• A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowledge or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. OSHA may propose penalties up to $70,000 for each willful violation.

• An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm. OSHA may propose a penalty up Up to $7,000 for each other-than-serious violation.

• A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the past five years. UpOSHA may propose penalties up to $70,000 for each repeat violation. To be the basis of a repeat citation, the original citation must be final.

A failure-to-abate notice applies to a condition, hazard or practice not corrected upon reinspection, and the penalty is the same as was originally cited.

Source: OSHA public affairs

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a citation categorized as serious to Formosa Plastics Corp. for the Sept. 13 flash fire that injured five men.

The Point Comfort plastic resins and petrochemicals plant has accepted the $7,000 penalty, which was issued Feb. 25.

Formosa Plastics Corp. Texas did not contest OSHA's citation, and the assessment has been paid, Bill Harvey, Formosa spokesman, wrote in an email.

The citation and penalty were imposed because Formosa did not issue a hot work permit for hot work operations conducted on or near a covered process, according to an email from Diana Petterson, OSHA public affairs representative.

Employees did not have the proper permit when they used an electric chain saw and an electric ripsaw to cut out a polymer plug in a vessel in the high-density polyethylene unit No. 2, according to the citation.

Hydrocarbons or other flammable gases ignited during the removal of the plug. Use of the equipment could have caused sparks, which could have ignited the contents of the vessel, according to an email message from OSHA.

The federal agency and Formosa conducted independent investigations of the incident and came up with the same conclusion, Harvey wrote.

Formosa has identified and imposed all necessary corrective actions to prevent a reoccurrence of this incident, Harvey added.

Formosa reports annual sales of more than $74 billion, according to the company's website.



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