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Senior US Senator calls for mandatory local authority notification of OSHA serious violation citations

08 January 2018

In the wake of the Verla International cosmetics factory explosion that killed one person and injured more than forty in the town of New Windsor, NY, on November 20, New York Senator Chuck Schumer has called for more coordination between federal and local government agencies when a company is cited for serious health and safety violations.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer
New York Senator Chuck Schumer

In a speech at New Windsor Town Hall on January 5, Schumer called for an immediate improvement of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) coordination and communication system protocols to notify local governments, fire departments and first responders and other public utility entities if and when a local company is cited for serious violations.

In the Verla International incident, first responders faced a range of hazards without knowledge of the nature of the hazardous or combustible materials involved, nor that the company had been cited by OSHA for a series of serious safety violations. As a result, seven of the firefighters tacking the fires and explosions at the plant were injured.

"Local governments and first responders must know where there are hazards so they can prepare and train for potential emergency situations," Schumer said.

According to the Times Herald-Record, OSHA reported in April 2017 that Verla International failed to properly store and ground flammable and highly combusted liquids, resulting in several serious violations. Moreover, Verla International was a repeat offender with a string of past violations.

Chuck Schumer is the leader of the Democrat minority in the US Senate.

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