Last year, four employees were killed in a massive gas leak at a DuPont plant. One worker was initially exposed to a toxic gas called methyl mercaptan, which is used in the production of jet fuel and in making insecticides. The exposure occurred when a drain opened on a vent line, unexpectedly releasing the deadly gas. The worker who faced the initial exposure was killed, along with three other co-workers who attempted a rescue. The leak was not brought under control for two full hours after the exposure first occurred.
Workplace accidents like this one trigger investigations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which can result in OSHA imposing fines and penalties. Companies who are found in repeated violation of safety rules or who have serious violations may also be added to OSHA’s list of “severe” violators. Companies on this list are subject to additional scrutiny and to more routine inspections of their workplaces. The added enforcement efforts aim to protect future employees from suffering serious injuries or fatalities as a result of the employer’s repeated or egregious failures to look out for the health of workers.
Companies on the severe violator list, as well as other organizations that don’t follow OSHA rules, routinely endanger the life and health of their workers. If you are harmed by anything that occurs on your worksite, you deserve to understand your rights and get help from an experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer. Your attorney can assist you in moving forward with a claim to receive benefits for work-related illnesses, injuries, or the death of a family member on-the-job.
Atlanta Worker Deaths and Injuries Can Result in Companies Facing OSHA Scrutiny
According to USA Today, OSHA conducted several inspections of the DuPont plant where the workers lost their lives in the gas leak. The plant, which employs approximately 300 employees, was found to have 11 safety violations in a May inspection. One of the violations involved a failure to train workers to use the ventilation system in the building. The 11 violations identified in May resulted in $99,000 in fines.
Following this initial inspection, OSHA identified an additional seven violations and fined DuPont another $273,000. This time, OSHA indicated that DuPont had shown an “indifference” to creating a safe worksite. The company failed to implement safety procedures, did not properly inspect equipment workers were using, and did not have an equipment safety plan.
Because of the repeated problems, OSHA placed DuPont into its severe violator enforcement program. After a company has been added to this list, it remains on it (and subject to more frequent inspections) until at least three years have passed since the last workplace safety case is resolved. Cases are resolved when companies reach a settlement agreement with OSHA, if a review commission or court sides with the company, or if the company does not contest the claims of workplace safety violations. When companies decline to contest claims of violations, the organization must pay all appropriate fines, abide by all provisions in a settlement agreement with OSHA, and must not receive any additional serious workplace safety violations at any plants nationwide.
Parsons & Associates, P.C. is an Atlanta workers’ compensation law firm serving Atlanta, Savannah, and surrounding areas throughout Fulton County. Contact Parsons & Associates, P.C. today at 770-422-9000 or contact us online if you have been injured at work.