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OSHA Cites TMT, Inc. Following Robbery and Death of Worker

TMT, Inc., headquartered in Dallas, Texas, has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for four serious safety violations following an aggravated robbery that resulted in the death of an employee at the Whip-In convenience store in Garland, Texas, which is one of four stores owned by the company. An investigation was opened by the Dallas area office of OSHA after the incident in May in which an employee was robbed and then set on fire by the robber. The employee, a 76-year-old woman, suffered second- and third-degree burns in the incident. She was taken to a hospital where she died a week later.

OSHA’s investigation included the three other stores owned by TMT in Dallas and Mesquite, and found that workers at all the locations were exposed to similar workplace violence hazards. Stephen Boyd, OSHA’s area director in Dallas stated, “Handling money, working alone and standing behind open counters leaves employees vulnerable to violent crimes. If the employer had conducted an analysis to identify risk for violence, implemented appropriate control measures and provided training to ensure awareness of potential violence, it is possible that this tragic loss of life could have been avoided.

Each of TMT’s four stores was cited with violation of OSHA’s “general duty clause” for failure to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause serious injury or death. The hazards in these stores present the threat of workplace violence to employees. Workplace violence is defined as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening and disruptive behavior that occurs at a work site. It can include threats and verbal abuse, physical assaults, and even homicide. Workplace violence can affect and involve employees, clients, customers, and visitors.

OSHA’s website has resources for more information on workplace violence including risk factors, prevention programs available, training resources, and information about enforcement. Links to online versions of publications about specific aspects of workplace violence are also available. This information can be found at .

TMT, Inc. which employs more than 60 employees in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, has 15 business days to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s Dallas area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Fire Blazes at Garland, Texas Chemical Plant

A chemical fire broke out at a Nexeo Solutions plant on Friday, November 16, 2012 in Garland, Texas. The two alarm fire was contained, but a pillar of black smoke rose to 7,000 feet according to the National Weather Service. As the fire burned, containers of chemicals were engulfed causing several explosions.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitored air quality in the area but tests showed no immediate danger for people in the area. The Garland Health Department also tested the water and found no contamination from the fire. The fire was found to contain mostly methanol, a highly flammable liquid used to produce materials such as plastics, paints, and fuels. Methanol is poisonous if ingested. Also burning in the fire was toluene, a high-powered solvent found in products such as nail polish and glue. Toluene can be dangerous at high levels. The EPA continued to test the air in Garland and nearby Dallas through the night. Businesses within a quarter mile of the facility were evacuated as a precaution until the following morning. The fire was contained to a loading rack, using first water, then sand, and was allowed to burn out on its own. 

The plant is shared between Nexeo Solutions, LLC and Valvoline. The facility was bought by Nexeo Solutions in April 2011 from Ashland Chemicals. Nexeo, which is based in the Houston suburb of The Woodlands is a chemical and plastic producer. They own facilities in the U.S., Europe, and Asia and employ 2,200 people.

A Nexeo plant in Massachusetts was fined $7,000 in October 2011 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for the serious violation of exposing employees to fire hazards due to improper storage of organic peroxides near flammable liquids and other combustible material. . The company reached a settlement with OSHA for a reduced fine of $4,500.

The Garland facility received 4 notices from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality during 2011 for failure to prevent unauthorized discharge of industrial and hazardous wastes, failure to update the notice of registration to reflect current active container, failure to conduct all required training annually, and failure to conduct all required weekly inspections of the facility’s security equipment. Three of the violations were considered minor and one moderate. Notices are not considered violations. Overall the TCEQ gave the facility a satisfactory rating and it has had no violations during 2012.

The cause of the fire at the Garland facility has not yet been determined and is still being investigated. All of the 41 employees at the plant escaped without injury.