May 14, 2015 / 7:42 PM / 3 years ago

DuPont Texas plant workers who died lacked protection: OSHA

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Four workers died at in a November lethal gas release at a DuPont chemical plant because the company failed to provide proper safety training and policies, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said on Thursday.

A sign at the entrance to the DuPont chemical plant reads "Safety is a core value" in LaPorte, Texas, 26 miles (42 km) downtown Houston, November 17, 2014. REUTERS/Erwin Seba

“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 David Michaels.

The four workers died after being overwhelmed by methyl mercaptain released inside a building at the LaPorte, Texas, chemical plant on Nov. 15.

A DuPont spokesman said the company has cooperated with OSHA as well as other investigations by other state and federal agencies.

“We are reviewing the OSHA findings,” said DuPont spokesman Aaron Woods in a statement.

DuPont was cited for an alleged 11 safety violations, OSHA said including one repeat violation for not training employees on use of the building’s ventilation system. The violations carry fines totaling $99,000.

DuPont, which reported revenue of $35 billion in 2014, has 15 days to reply to the citations. Most companies are able to reduce their fines by demonstrating they have mitigated the conditions that led to the accident.

DuPont has made changes the unit that leaked methyl mercaptain, Woods said.

“We are conducting completely new process hazards analyses, acting on findings from our own investigation, and the unit will not restart until this work is complete,” he said.

The company is also performing a comprehensive assessment of process safety management systems, Woods said.

Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Terry Wade and Andrew Hay

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