OSHA concludes investigation into May explosion, proposes USD300K in penalties

(MENAFN) The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has concluded its investigation into the May explosion at the Seqens pharmaceutical chemical plant in Newburyport, Massachusetts, which resulted in the tragic death of 62-year-old worker Jack O'Keefe. OSHA has determined that the explosion, which tore off most of the building's roof, could have been prevented. In response, the administration has proposed penalties totaling nearly USD300,000.

OSHA's findings, announced on Thursday, point to deficiencies in safety measures at Seqens and its subsidiary PolyCarbon Industries Inc. The investigation revealed that the companies "lacked safeguards" in the chemical-making process, particularly in their safety management program for highly hazardous chemicals. Additionally, OSHA highlighted the failure to assess the combustibility hazards of materials used in the production of the chemical Dekon 139, and the absence of safe upper and lower temperature limits to prevent the decomposition of Dekon 139.

The fatal incident occurred when a pressure vessel exploded, claiming the life of Jack O'Keefe. OSHA has cited both Seqens and PolyCarbon Industries Inc. with a total of 11 violations, including eight classified as serious. The proposed penalties amount to USD298,254. Representatives from the companies are expected to engage in discussions with OSHA on Tuesday, with a deadline until November 29 to either reach a settlement or contest the citations and penalties.

OSHA's Area Director, Sarah Carle, emphasized the importance of adherence to the agency's Process Safety Management standard, highlighting its stringent and comprehensive nature. She emphasized that compliance is crucial to identify and minimize hazards, as failure to do so can have severe or catastrophic consequences for employees, as tragically evidenced in this case. Employers are urged to consistently scrutinize, update, and maintain each element of the process to ensure the safety and health of workers.



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