The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is issuing $139,000 in proposed penalties against Westlake Corp. and three other companies for a flash fire and subsequent explosion that injured six workers at Westlake's plant in Sulphur, La.
OSHA said March 24 it issued 11 serious violations against the four companies over the Sept. 27 incident, which happened during maintenance activities at the complex, which makes ethylene, polyethylene, styrene and other products. The work was being done at least in part by outside contractors.
OSHA issued four serious violations and $58,000 in proposed penalties to Turn2 Specialty Companies LLC in LaPorte, Texas. Westlake received $30,500 in fines and three serious violations, while two other firms each received two serious violations.
Leak Sealers Inc. of Lumberton, Texas, received proposed penalties of $26,100, and Wastewater Specialties LLC of Sulphur was issued fines of $24,900.
The agency said the six workers were seriously injured.
"Employers are responsible for ensuring employees have a safe workplace by having the correct confined space permits and a plan in place to inspect equipment to prevent serious injuries," said Roderic Chube, OSHA's area director in Baton Rouge, La. "Employers should also make sure that no employee is exposed to an airborne concentration of benzene in excess of the permissible exposure limits."
Local media reported that 22 workers who were injured in the incident filed a lawsuit last year.