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Chemical accident has Dupont pursuing an employer defense

Many industrial work sites, including quite a few in California, are risky due to the amount of dangerous chemicals commonly present. This can cause a worker to suffer serious injuries if proper safeguards are not maintained. Safety violations can result in citations from work safety inspectors. A strong employer defense strategy may be the key to protecting business interests.

DuPont is facing this situation. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration recently labeled the chemical company as a "severe" violator of work safety regulations. The decision followed a second inspection by OSHA of a DuPont chemical plant in another state where four workers were killed last November following a treacherous gas leak.

The chemical plant, located in Texas, has about 300 employees working to make pesticides as well as other chemicals. One worker died from being overwhelmed by exposure to a toxic gas, methyl mercaptan. This gas is commonly utilized to make pesticides and jet fuel. Three other workers died while making rescue efforts.

A company that has been cited by OSHA has the option of defending itself against the findings of safety violations. This may help to minimize fines and penalties faced by a company in a similar situation in California. In some cases, the citations can be completely removed. In the alternative, fines may be reduced and an agreement may be reached regarding the implementation of a plan to correct safety concerns and otherwise satisfy the requirements of OSHA regulators. Understanding the applicable laws and regulations will be essential in implementing an effective employer defense strategy.

Source: USA Today, "OSHA adds DuPont to severe violator list after leak", Jeff Mordock, July 13, 2015

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