Five months after a Goodyear employee died following an explosion at a tire and rubber chemical plant in southeast Houston, the feds have issued a rash of citations to the factory for failing to safeguard its workers. But when it's all said and done, the fines would cost the company less than $70,000.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began its investigation in June after a piece of equipment fatally struck a worker. A valve was improperly closed, preventing a device from releasing pressure as it built up.
Earlier this week, OSHA issued citations alleging seven "serious" violations and one repeat violation. A "serious" violation is one when there's the potential to kill or harm an employee and the company knew or should have known about it.
"The company did not adequately protect its employees from potentially hazardous conditions," according to a statement issued by OSHA's director of its Houston office, Mark Briggs. "If OSHA's regulations regarding process safety management had been followed, it is possible that this tragedy could have been prevented."
The serious violations included failure to provide clear operating procedures, to keep workers safe from machines that can over-pressurize, and failure to both implement an emergency plan and to update piping and instrument diagrams. The repeat violation was not making sure the emergency alarm was working.
Hair Balls does not know if the family of the slain worker is suing Goodyear, but if so, we're pretty sure it's for a lot of money. At least more than what the government can charge Goodyear for safety violations, a measly $67,000.
-- Chris Vogel
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.