Sep 28, 2009
On September 24, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board released its report on the 2008 explosion at the Imperial Sugar refinery in Georgia. Fourteen workers were killed. Thirty-six more were injured, one so seriously that his medical bills have reached more than eight million dollars, according to a lawyer representing some of the victims.
The Chemical Board report noted inadequate equipment design, poor maintenance and ineffective housekeeping as the causes of the Georgia disaster. Said its chairman, “This was a tragic accident that should not have happened.”
Of course it should not have happened. And it was no “accident.” The sugar industry has known since 1925 that dust from its operations can burst into flame. Imperial Sugar itself had a management memo on the dangers of sugar dust dating back to 1967.
After the 14 deaths last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Imperial Sugar close to nine million dollars. Imperial Sugar is going to court to fight the fine. But for the sake of all workers endangered by the way the bosses run their factories, OSHA should have inspected and fined Imperial nine million dollars BEFORE the deaths occurred.
If we had killed 14 people, we would be tried for murder. But for the bosses, when their actions kill people it’s not murder – it’s just called an accident that should not have happened!