All In   |  April 18, 2013

Examining work safety in light of the Texas fertilizer plant explosion

The last time the fertilizer plant that blew up in Texas Wednesday night was inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was 30 years ago. Chris Hayes explains.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> that was amateur video of an entire building effectively becoming a bomb. about an hour or so after we got off the air last night, the west fertilizer plant in west texas exploded. the blast killed as many as 15 people with three or four volunteer firefighters believed to be among the dead and injured some 167 others. these are just estimates. it sent a mushroom plume of smoke into the air and just about destroyed a four to five block radius around the company. this is a picture of the apartment building located 4 to 500 yards before the explosion and this is how it looked earlier today. as of right now, texas officials will not talk about what exactly may have caused the explosion but a spokesperson from texas emergency management said it had hydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate on site. it turns out 66 years and one day ago, texas experienced a similar disaster involving the federalizer chemical ammonium nitrate and turned out to be the deadliest accident in american history .

>> night and day for three horrible days, the inferno that almost blasted a texas city from the map rages uncontrollable and unchecked. explosion and fire create a holocaust that baffles description and blocks out the sun for miles around.

>> an explosion on april 17th , 1947 at a texas city on the gulfcoast happened as fertilizer was being loaded onto a ship. the subsequent chain reaction of fires killed almost 600 people. ammonium nitrate can become a powerful explosive and what the bomber timothy mcveigh used to kill 168 people. there's no connection but the point is fertilizer is a dangerous substance. texas regulators knew they had 12,000 gallon tanks of the a ammonia and due to a controlled fire from the fertilizer plant. the dallas news is reporting the plant told the environmental protection agency and local officials it did not present a risk of fire or explosion and worst case scenario would be a 10 minute release of ammonia gas that would kill or in injure no one. records from the occupational safety administration shows the last inspection of the west fertilizer plant happened in 1985 , for a few violations osha considered serious, the company was find, wait for it. $30. 28 years seems like a very long time for osha inspections for a risky workplace. while the number of inspectors has grown under the obama administration, osha just has 2400 inspectors for 8 million work sites. roughly one inspector per 60,000 worke workers. we talked last night about fay fatalities from terrorism and gun deaths and we didn't talk about workplace. 3,000 americans died from terror attacks and during that same time. 335,000 americans died from the hands of a gun and over 60,000 workplace deaths. you would think on the day after one workplace fired up an entire town, the man that works for president obama , the day he went before a senate committee , after a factory explosion not inspected for almost 30 years, perez would be asked about it and you would be wrong. during the entire hearing no one saw it relevant to raise a peep about west or osha . they did find time to ask about a favorite right wing bugaboo. total questions about osha , zero, total questions about the new black party panther voter intimidation case, one.

>> and i will talk about one who has covered workplace safety regulation more than any other journalist i know. welcome