The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration plans to fine Croda Inc. after a chemical release at the New Castle plant exposed workers to ethylene oxide. The company faces $262,548 in penalties.
OSHA initiated an inspection after the exposure in November hospitalized one employee and left five others suffering symptoms of ethylene oxide (EtO) exposure. The chemical is volatile and can be deadly. In the past, it was used in chemical warfare.
EtO is used in Croda chemicals that go into household products. Croda is a company based in the United Kingdom.
The agency cited Croda Inc. for 25 serious violations, including deficient emergency action and response plans; failure to train employees on how to manage EtO leaks; and the use of fire protection, water deluge systems, and emergency shutdown procedures. The company also failed to develop procedures for emergency responders to manage firewater amid an EtO release, activate the emergency alarm system, and provide employees with respiratory protection.
“This incident could have been prevented if the employer had taken appropriate precautions,” said OSHA Area Director Erin G. Patterson, in Wilmington. “By failing to follow well-known safety and health procedures, and provide training, they risked the health of their workers.”
Following receipt of the citations, Croda Inc. requested an informal conference with OSHA, and is working to reach a settlement.
Croda earlier agreed to pay a fine in a separate case with Delaware environmental regulators.