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OSHA cites plant for disregarding workers' rights after 4 deaths

Companies nationwide, including in Colorado, that are put on the Occupational Health and Safety Administration's severe violators enforcement program will be subjected to follow-up inspections to determine compliance with safety regulations. OSHA recently added DuPont -- the chemical company giant that touts its safety program as world class -- to its list of severe violators. This follows the death of four workers at a DuPont plant in another state where a massive gas leak occurred last November. By its action, OSHA has made it clear that such disregard of workers' rights is inexcusable.

The plant at issue employs over 300 workers. It was found to have a defective ventilation system that allowed exposure to flammable and highly toxic chemicals that are used in the manufacture of insecticides. Reportedly, the flawed design of the ventilation system allowed liquid to build up from condensation. OSHA indicated that workers were then expected to drain the system while being exposed to dangerous chemicals.

Apparently, the system was linked to the supply line for methyl mercaptan in several places, causing the toxic chemical to be released into the air and creating further hazards. OSHA said the deaths of the four workers were preventable and questioned the company's claims of an outstanding safety culture. The company was cited for safety violations, including some willful violations.

Colorado workers who are exposed to unsafe work environments in which workers' rights are disregarded may suffer injuries that can bring about unexpected medical expenses and other losses. Most workers are covered by workers' compensation, and those who suffer work-related injuries may pursue financial relief by filing benefit claims with the workers' compensation insurance fund. In the case of a workplace fatality, a victim's covered dependents are typically covered by death benefits through the same insurance system.

Source: telegram.com, "US regulators say DuPont has 'failed' safety program", July 10, 2015

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