STEPAN CHEMICAL COMPANY

OSHRC Docket No. 5562

Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission

May 4, 1977

[*1]

Before BARNAKO, Chairman and CLEARY, Commissioner.

COUNSEL:

Baruch A. Fellner, Office of the Solicitor, USDOL

Herman Grant, Regional Solicitor

John D. Donlevy, for the employer

J. Steinreich, Jr., Plant Mgr., Stephan Chemical Company, for the employer

Richard Sorg Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers International Union, Local 7-725, for the employees

OPINIONBY: CLEARY

OPINION:

DECISION

CLEARY, Commissioner:

On March 25, 1976, Judge Sidney J. Goldstein issued a decision affirming a citation issued to respondent employer for violation of section 5(a)(1) n1 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, 29 U.S.C. 651 et seq. [hereinafter "the Act"]. The citation alleged that newly hired employees were not adequately trained and supervised in the hazards of pressure vessels and hazardous materials associated with the petrochemical industry. Judge Goldstein assessed a penalty of $600. We affirm the Judge's decision.

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n1 Section 5(a)(1) of the Act provides that "Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees."

[*2]

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Neither respondent, the Secretary, nor the employee representative n2 petitioned for review. However, on March 26, 1976, on his own motion, former Commissioner Moran issued an order to review the decision of the Administrative Law Judge, although the order listed no specific issues to be reviewed. Subsequent to the direction (order) for review, respondent filed a brief taking exception to the Judge's definition of the hazard, but conceding that it "had a duty to verify proper training, supervision, and understanding of the employment hazard." The Secretary as well as the employee representative adopted the briefs that they submitted to Judge Goldstein as their briefs to the Commission. Consistent with the policy statement concerning directions for review stating no specific issue for Commission adjudication, 41 Fed. Reg. 53015 (1976), the Commission will consider the arguments advanced by the parties who have relied upon such an order.

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n2 The Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers International Union, AFL-CIO and its Local 7-725.

[*3]

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Respondent contends that the Judge defined the hazard as the task assigned to its employees. The task was to release internal pressure from a pressure vessel that was filled with phthalic anhydride. n3 While it is undisputed that working with pressure vessels and chemicals is dangerous, this is not the hazard. If it were, respondent's conclusion that the hazard could not be eliminated from its workplace without closing its business might be correct. Respondent, however, misreads the Judge's opinion. Although the Judge did use the word "hazardous" in describing the job assigned to respondent's employees, he used it as a synonym for the word "dangerous," not as a word of art. The Judge defined the hazard as permitting an employer to perform this dangerous task without proper training and supervision.

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n3 Phthalic anhydride is used as a base for resins, paints, and similar products.

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We affirm the Judge's findings of a section 5(a)(1) [*4] violation for the reasons that he assigned.

Respondent also questions the definition of the hazard since it is unclear what type of measures would be necessary to abate the hazard. Assuming that respondent normally employs safe techniques in its handling of its pressure vessels and chemicals, an employee must be adequately trained and supervised in these techniques to prevent the hazard. This may include instruction in the use of the correct tools for each particular work assignment. We agree with and adopt the Judge's suggestions concerning the methods of training and supervision that could be instituted to prevent the hazard. n4 We note that respondent in its brief also agrees with the Judge's suggestions for abatement and has asserted that it has incorporated these methods into its safety program.

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n4 The safety manual, from which the Judge took his suggestions, was offered as an exhibit by the Secretary. Through the testimony of the compliance officer and respondent's safety and training supervisor, the Secretary reemphasized and demonstrated these feasible methods of abatement. See National Realty and Construction Co., Inc. v. O.S.H.R.C., 489 F.2d 1257, 1268 (D.C. Cir. 1973).

[*5]

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Accordingly, we affirm the Judge's decision.