Middleton Adhesive Manufacturer Settles DOL Workplace Safety Litigation for $600,000

A Middleton, Massachusetts adhesives manufacturer has settled litigation related to a number of safety violation citations issued by the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) following a March 2011 workplace explosion. In September 2011, Bostik Inc. received $917,000 in proposed penalties for 50 safety violations following a six-month OSHA investigation of the explosion. The company recently agreed to take corrective action and pay a total of $600,000 in fines.

Bostik was accused of failing to correct serious deficiencies in the company’s direct solvation process safety management program despite that internal and third-party compliance audits revealed several program inadequacies. A process safety management program is a detailed set of procedures that an employer must follow in order to address the dangers associated with the use of hazardous chemicals. Bostik used large quantities of acetone in the company’s manufacturing process and on the day of the explosion a transfer line valve was allegedly left open. As a result, acetone vapors reportedly escaped and ignited. Fortunately, the workplace explosion occurred when the company’s manufacturing plant was largely empty.

Following an investigation of the accident, OSHA issued nine willful violations with proposed penalties of $630,000 to Bostik. A willful violation exists when an employer knowingly disregards the law with plain indifference to the health and safety of company employees. In addition to an incomplete process safety management program, the company also reportedly failed to address prior health and safety incidents, and failed to ensure forklifts and electrical equipment were approved for use in an environment where flammable vapors may be present.

The company initially received an additional $287,000 in proposed fines over 41 alleged serious workplace safety violations. A serious violation occurs when an employer knew or should have known a safety violation was likely to result in a worker’s death or serious physical injury. The alleged violations included an incomplete emergency response plan, inadequate worker safety and response training, electrical hazards, blocked emergency exits, and additional process safety management program deficiencies.

As part of the settlement agreement, Bostik agreed to address process safety management program deficiencies, enhance program effectiveness, and submit proof of any corrective measures taken to OSHA. The company also agreed to halt use of the direct solvation process at its Middleton manufacturing facility.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was established to provide workers in the U.S. with reasonably safe working conditions. OSHA is tasked with investigating serious workplace accidents and enforcing compliance with federal health and safety laws. In Massachusetts, the Workers’ CompensationAct normally provides the only avenue for recovery to employees who are injured on-the-job as a result of unsafe workplace conditions. If you were hurt at work, you should contact a skilled Boston OSHA and workplace rights attorney to help you receive the compensation you deserve based on your injuries.

At Pulgini & Norton, LLP, our hardworking Braintree workers’ compensation lawyers are available to assist you with the often complicated Massachusetts workers’ compensation process. The attorneys at Pulgini & Norton understand the uncertainty that can accompany a workplace injury. We are here to answer your questions and help you file your case. Our capable lawyers represent clients throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts including Bristol, Middlesex, Norfolk, Worcester, and Suffolk counties. To speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer today, call Pulgini & Norton toll free at (888) 344-2046 or contactour dedicated attorneys through the law firm’s website.

More Blogs:

OSHA Proposes $130,300 in Fines for Safety Violations Following Worker’s Death at Lancaster Package Manufacturing Facility, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, May 14, 2012

Massachusetts-Based Stone Fabricator Fined $47,600 for Serious and Repeat Safety Violations, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, May 7, 2012

Additional Resources:

Middleton, Mass., manufacturer pays $600,000 in fines, takes corrective steps following legal action by US Labor Department after 2011 explosion, Region 1 News Release: 12-890-BOS/BOS 2012-082 dated May 17, 2012

US Labor Department’s OSHA cites 50 safety violations, proposes $917,000 in fines against Bostik Inc. following Middleton, Mass., explosion, Region 1 News Release: 11-1340-BOS dated September 13, 2011

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