DuPont fined $99,000 for gas leak that took lives of 4 workers.

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The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined DuPont $99,000 for violations in a fatal gas link at its LaPorte, Texas site.

OSHA cited DuPont for 11 safety violations and identified scores of safety upgrades the company must undertake to prevent future accidents at its Lannate/API manufacturing building in La Porte. The company employs 313 workers who manufacture crop protection materials and chemicals.

“Four people lost their lives and their families lost loved ones because DuPont did not have proper safety procedures in place,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.

“Had the company assessed the dangers involved, or trained their employees on what to do if the ventilation system stopped working, they might have had a chance.”

The fatal incident occurred as one worker was overwhelmed when methyl mercaptan gas was unexpectedly released when she opened a drain on a vent line. Two co-workers who came to her aid were also overcome.

None of the three wore respirators. A fourth co-worker – the brother of one of the fallen men – attempted a rescue, but was unsuccessful. All four people died in the building.

DuPont was cited for one repeat, nine serious and one other than serious OSHA violations. The repeat violation was assessed for not training employees on using the building’s ventilation system and other safety procedures, such as how to respond if the fans stopped working. In July 2010, DuPont was cited for a similar violation.

The company was the target of an article in the Houston Chronicle that cited job cutbacks and training problems at its plants.

The company has 15 business to respond to the fine.

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