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CSB: Gov't and DuPont failed workers in deadly LaPorte tragedy

Widespread failure on multiple levels resulted in the deaths of four workers at a DuPont chemical plant in LaPorte, Texas, last year. That's the conclusion offered up in a preliminary report from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board a few weeks ago.

What impact the report may have on practices is something that only time will tell. At the very least, the findings by the CSB seem to support the notion that the current environment in the Texas refinery industry is such that workers need to be watching out for themselves, because no one else is doing it.

We have written about this tragedy before on this blog. Many may recall the details. Three men and a woman asphyxiated when 23,000 pounds toxic methyl mercaptan spilled. Fumes from the chemical overwhelmed them.

In the wake of the incident fingers of blame have pointed every which way. DuPont said the workers themselves were responsible. Federal safety officials said DuPont should be held accountable and recommended fines against the conglomerate in the amount of less than $400,000. But the CSB's preliminary report says the workers were nothing but victims.

DuPont's list of failures runs the gamut:

  • Improper equipment maintenance
  • Broken ventilation fans
  • A lack of sensors to detect hazardous conditions for workers and the general public
  • Poor worker training and preparation
  • Inadequate emergency response plans

Government regulators at the federal and state levels take a hit, too. Agencies haven't stayed on top of their monitoring and enforcement responsibilities. Some of that appears due to lack of funding and staffing. The CSB says bureaucratic indifference is a problem, too, especially at the state level.

Shy of some big changes in practice it seems apparent that the onus is on you as a worker to watch out for yourself. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed on the job consulting an experienced attorney should be a top priority.

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