A Louisiana facility is facing sanctions after an investigation into an August 2013 worker injury. The victim wasinjured while workingwhen a chemical fire broke out at the Natural Advantage site in Oakdale, Louisiana, according to reports from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In all, the company received 19 serious citations for safety and health violations at that facility. Serious OSHA violations occur when an employer fails to correct hazards that could lead to serious injury or death.
Natural Advantage is a facility that employs about 90 workers. It manufactures a variety of food and drink flavorings through its chemical production facilities in Oakdale and Lakeland. The company reportedly began as a research laboratory.
OSHA investigators said they found a variety of chemical hazards at the site. Workers were reportedly overexposed to the dangerous substance methylene chloride. The employer could have employed engineering controls – such as vents or other systems – to protect workers from high airborne concentrations of the chemical. That, however, did not occur, and workers were also not given respirators in accordance with the OSHA methylene chloride standard. Further, the company did not develop procedures for detecting leaks, and workers were not subject to medical surveillance designed to identify health effects from exposure.
Not only were workers put in harm’s way because they breathed high concentrations of toxic gas, the company was also cited for violations involving flammable liquids and potentially reactive chemical substances. Those dangerous substances were not stored and dispensed properly. Flammable and highly reactive chemicals were stored in close proximity, for example. If workers were exposed or injured, there was no emergency response plan designed to give them instructions.
Workers should not be subject to such egregiously unsafe working conditions. Employers should be held responsible for failure to provide adequate protection. In this case, Natural Advantage is facing proposed fines of $91,000. Victims of workplace injury accidents may also be entitled to workers’ compensation, depending on the nature of the incidents. Those victims may benefit from discussing their cases with a Louisiana personal injury attorney.
Source: United States Department of Labor, “Flavoring manufacturer in Oakdale, La., cited by US Labor Department’s OSHA after a fire severely burns a worker” Diana Petterson and Juan Rodriguez, Feb. 10, 2014