Proposed penalty follows safety violations leading to refinery explosion that killed 13, says OSHA
Authorities have proposed penalties of $8.8m against Imperial Sugar Company for safety violations which caused an explosion that killed 13 employees and injured 40 others.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) initiated an investigation after an explosion and fire on February 7, 2008, at the company’s Port Wentworth refinery.
The proposed penalties represent the third largest fine in the history of OSHA.
OSHA's inspections found that there were large accumulations of combustible sugar dust in workrooms, on electrical motors and on other equipment. The investigation also determined that officials at the company were well aware of these conditions, but they took no action reasonably directed at reducing the hazards.
“I am outraged that this company would show a complete disregard for its employees' safety.
Assistant secretary of labor for OSHA Edwin Foulke
Assistant secretary of labor for OSHA Edwin Foulke said: ‘I am outraged that this company would show a complete disregard for its employees' safety by knowingly placing them in an extremely dangerous work environment.’
He added: ‘What is even worse is that a month after the devastating catastrophe in Port Wentworth that claimed the lives of 13 people, this company had done little to ensure abatement of the combustible dust hazards at its other plant.’
The company has around 15 days to contest the citations and proposed penalties.