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Workplace injuries: Chemical flavor industry poses severe risks

Oklahoma workers who are exposed to the multiple hazards inherent to the chemical industry deserve to be protected. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently cited a chemical company in another state after an August inspection identified hazards that could lead to workplace injuries. The company serves the petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries by producing aromatic chemical intermediates for food and perfume flavoring.

The federal inspectors determined that the company failed to establish operating procedures in writing. It also failed to perform a hazard analysis, equipment inspections and contractor safety. These were all determined to be safety violations that could expose workers to severe health and injury risks.

While the risks present in each chemical facility can be different, the main hazard at this company appears to have been the 10,000 pounds of ethyl chloride kept on the plant. This is a highly flammable liquefied gas. OSHA noted that chemicals can accidentally release, causing explosions and severe fires. Such a disaster can result from the company's failure to comply with prescribed safety management. This hazardous environment endangered the lives of all the workers in the plant, and OSHA proposed $72,100 in penalties along with 17 citations for safety violations.

Oklahoma workers who have suffered health issues or workplace injuries that were caused by unsafe workplace environments have the right to pursue financial assistance with medical expenses. This can be done by filing benefits claims through the applicable workers' compensation insurance program. While the benefits typically cover medical expenses that were brought about by the injury or illness, long-term conditions caused by occupational hazards may lead to additional compensation being awarded.

Source: chem.info, "OSHA Cites Chemical Company For Serious Safety Violations", Meagan Parrish, Feb. 17, 2016

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