No information on cause of worker deaths until legal proceedings over – DSM

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Italy, Fermentation, Dsm

An investigation into the cause of an industrial accident at a DSM plant in Italy that killed three workers eight months ago remains ongoing, the company said.

A DSM spokesperson told FoodProductionDaily.com that no information would be available until legal proceedings launched in the aftermath of the accident at the company’s Capua facility, near Naples, on 11 September 2010, had been concluded.

But the firm stressed: “Meanwhile this has not prevented us from reiterating and emphasizing key safety recommendations across our organization worldwide, in addition to the regular (training) activities.”

DSM declined to disclose details about whether it was facing legal action from Italian authorities and/or families of the victims.

Fermentation unit

The episode occurred during routine maintenance inside one of the plant’s two fermentation units used to manufacture food ingredients and enzymes.

Reports in the Italian national newspaper, La Republica at the time, suggested that the three male workers died from gas poisoning after entering the fermentation tank that had been out-of-use for some weeks.

DSM said that activities at the plant, reduced in the period following the deaths, had since been “resumed”​ – with the exception of the fermentor at the centre of the probe.

Last September, the company said the men were employed by a contracting company that had worked at the plant for “a very long time” ​and were all “very familiar with the site, its operations and the safety procedures”.

DSM said that, as well as its own internal inquiry, Italian authorities had immediately launched an investigation into the accident.

Deeply touched

The company spokesperson said: “The very sad accident at our Capua site, where, on 11 September 2010, three persons died while working on the demounting of scaffolding inside a fermentor has deeply touched us.

“Internal investigations started immediately after the tragic accident to understand what happened and to identify opportunities for improvement to prevent such an accident from happening ever again”

She added: “We also reduced our business activities at other parts of the site to ensure a safe environment for all employees, who were deeply saddened by the accident. These activities have meanwhile been resumed, with the exception of the fermentor (F14).

“Investigations into the accident in Capua are still ongoing. Until legal proceedings have been completed, no detailed information as to the possible causes of the accident can be given.”

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