Four workers killed by a lethal gas in November 2014 would be alive today had their employer, DuPont, taken steps to protect them, a Department of Labor (DOL) investigation has found.
The department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) subsequently cited DuPont for 11 safety violations and identified scores of safety upgrades the company must undertake to prevent future accidents at its Lannate/API manufacturing building in La Porte, Texas.
The company employs 313 workers who manufacture crop protection materials and chemicals there.
The fatal incident occurred as one worker was overwhelmed when methyl mercaptan gas was unexpectedly released when she opened a drain on a methyl mercaptan vent line. Two co-workers who came to her aid were also overcome. None of the three wore protective respirators. A fourth co-worker — the brother of one of the fallen men — attempted a rescue, but was unsuccessful. All four people died in the building.
Methyl mercaptan is a colorless gas with a strong odor. It is used in pesticides, jet fuels and plastics. At dangerous levels of exposure, the gas depresses the central nervous system and affects the respiratory center, producing death by respiratory paralysis.
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