Settlement Reached in Mass. Plant Explosion

The adhesives manufacturer Bostik Inc. has agreed to pay $600,000 in fines as a result of workplace safety citations stemming from a March 2011 explosion at its Boston Road plant in West Peabody, MA. Investigators from the Department of Labor reported that the accident, which was the result of a valve being left open, damaged two nearby buildings and caused nonlife-threatening injuries to four workers at the plant.

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), after an initial six-month investigation, had cited Bostik for a number of violations of federal safety requirements and procedures. It concluded that the most worrisome of these were the “serious deficiencies” in the company’s process safety management program-a comprehensive document required of companies that have more than 10,000 pounds of hazardous materials on-site. Bostik has said it is now taking steps to correct these deficiencies.

The fine, which is a reflection of 50 different workplace violations raised by OSHA, was initially levied against Bostik at $917,000. However, the agency said it reduced the amount in order to speed up the process of implementing new safety measures at the plant. According to Ted Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the Department of Labor, the reduction indicates “in part the employer’s willingness to put in resources to correct the issues that should have been addressed in the first place.”

Although the injuries sustained were not life-threatening, the blast posed a serious risk due to the large amount of hazardous chemicals and the plant’s widespread incompliance. The incident highlights growing concern that the Department of Labor is not doing enough to monitor employers, prompting a new study which found that government enforcement of workplace safety standards can reduce injury claims at inspected companies by 9.4 percent compared to those not inspected. Many companies, however, are still resistant to this proposal.

If you or a loved one have been injured in the workplace, it is advisable to seek legal assistance in obtaining compensation for your injuries. If you would like to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney at Altman & Altman, LLP, please contact us at (617) 206-1928.

Sources:, May 17, 2012

Business Insurance, May 18, 2012

The Salem News, May 18, 2012

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