OSHA Focuses on Refinery Safety

March 26, 2007

OSHA recently announced that it is continuing to make the safety and health of workers in America's refineries a priority, and a recent hearing on the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board's (CSB) report on the BP accident in Texas City, Texas, reinforces the importance of this effort.

"The refinery industry has been a major focus for OSHA," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke Jr., "and the CSB report confirms we are on the right track. OSHA already has implemented two of the CSB's three major recommendations and increased our inspections in the refining industry." Last year, OSHA and its state partners conducted more than 100 refinery inspections. Thus far in fiscal year 2007, an additional 50 refinery inspections have taken place.

Additional staff training is a key part of OSHA's refinery strategy. "To date, we have trained more than 160 OSHA staff in the principles of conducting a Process Safety Management (PSM) inspection, and by August of this year we will have 280 PSM-trained inspectors," said Foulke. These staff will ensure that under a new National Emphasis Program, every refinery under OSHA's jurisdiction is inspected.

OSHA Cites Bethlehem, Pa., Companies for Lead and Other Safety and Health Hazards


OSHA has jointly cited Brey-Krause Manufacturing Co. and L.M. Smoyer Brass Products Inc. for alleged safety and health violations, and is proposing a total of $109,250 in penalties. The Bethlehem, Pa., companies manufacture bathroom fixtures and accessories as well as automotive accessories.

OSHA initiated its investigation of the companies on Sept. 19, 2006, in response to a complaint alleging employees were exposed to lead hazards in a common foundry area. The companies were issued one willful violation with a penalty of $35,000; 33 serious violations with penalties of $73,750; and one other-than-serious violation with a penalty of $500.

"Overexposure to lead is a leading cause of workplace illness," said Jean Kulp, director of OSHA's area office in Allentown, Pa. "It is vital that the companies correct these hazards to protect their employees."

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. A willful violation was issued because the company failed to adequately monitor employee lead exposure when required.

Serious violations are issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious injury could occur from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. The serious violations include hazardous exposure to lead and cadmium, the lack of a noise-monitoring program, and unguarded machinery.

The other-than-serious violation is due to the companies' failure to properly record injuries and illnesses.

Cave-in Hazard at Worksite in Boston Leads to $73,500 in OSHA Fines

A Sharon, Mass., contractor's failure to supply cave-in protection for an employee working in an 8.6-foot deep excavation in downtown Boston has resulted in $73,500 in proposed fines from OSHA.

Walsh Construction Co. was cited for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards following an OSHA inspection begun Sept. 15, 2006, in response to a report of an employee working in an unprotected excavation where Walsh Construction was installing a water line.

OSHA's inspection found the trench lacked any protection against a collapse of its sidewalls. OSHA standards require that all excavations five feet or deeper be protected against cave-ins, since their sidewalls can collapse without warning, burying employees beneath tons of soil and debris before they have a chance to react or escape.

As a result, OSHA issued Walsh Construction one willful citation, carrying the maximum penalty of $70,000, for the lack of cave-in protection. The company also was issued one serious citation, with a $3,500 fine, for not performing an adequate inspection of the trench and for allowing an employee to enter and work in the unprotected trench.

"The potential for death or serious injury is real and present whenever you have employees in an unprotected excavation," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for Boston and Southeastern Massachusetts. "While it is fortunate that a collapse did not occur in this case, this was a matter of luck. Employee safety must not ever be left to chance."


OSHA Proposes $48,000 in Penalties Against Two South Florida Contractors

OSHA has proposed penalties of $43,000 against West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Southland Forming and $5,000 against Dania Beach, Fla.-based KMC Masonry for multiple safety violations at the Peninsula II construction site in Aventura, Fla.

"Our referral inspection followed an Oct. 4, 2006, concrete shoring collapse that injured five employees," said Darlene Fossum, OSHA's area director in Fort Lauderdale. "These companies have placed the lives of employees at risk by creating unsafe working conditions and not providing proper safety training."

OSHA proposes six serious citations, with proposed penalties of $42,000, for, among other violations, improperly designing the shoring for stairway floor openings, failing to properly place support jacks, placing uneven loads on jacks and posts, and not properly training employees to recognize and avoid hazards.



OSHA issued one other-than-serious citation, with a proposed $1,000 penalty, because Southland Forming failed to properly maintain OSHA Form 300, a log for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses.

KMC Masonry received two serious citations, with proposed penalties totaling $5,000, for not training employees to recognize and avoid hazards, and not keeping them clear of suspended loads of blocks.

OSHA Cites Pallet Manufacturer for Safety Violations

OSHA has proposed $157,200 in fines against Inca Presswood Pallets Ltd of Dover, following the death of an employee in September 2006, for alleged multiple willful and serious violations of federal workplace safety standards.

OSHA opened an investigation after receiving notification that an employee was crushed while servicing a hydraulic press that had been disabled but not protected against accidental energizing by locking out potentially hazardous energy sources. OSHA issued four willful citations with proposed penalties totaling $126,000, alleging that the company failed to control potentially hazardous energy during machine repair or maintenance, adequately train employees on energy control procedures, and establish an energy control procedure.

"Taking certain safety steps with regard to hazardous energy sources, in circumstances such as this one, can make all the difference in preventing fatalities and serious injuries," said Deborah Zubaty, director of OSHA's area office in Columbus, Ohio. "It should not have been difficult to recognize the hazard and prevent this occurrence."

OSHA also issued 15 serious citations with proposed penalties totaling $31,200, alleging deficiencies in fall protection and confined space entry programs, inadequate machine guarding and personal identification of lockout devices, and incorrect electrical wiring.

OSHA Issues Revised Guide to Help Protect Employees from Amputation


OSHA issued Safeguarding Equipment and Protecting Employees from Amputations, a revised guide to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. This revised guide ties directly to OSHA's National Emphasis Program on Amputations, released Oct. 27, 2006.

"Amputations are among the most severe and disabling workplace injuries that result in permanent disability. They are widespread and involve various activities and equipment," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. "These injuries result from the use and care of machines such as saws, presses, conveyors, and bending, rolling or shaping machines as well as from powered and non-powered hand tools, forklifts, doors, trash compactors, and during materials-handling activities. The revised guide offers practical information for the small business employer to identify and manage common amputation hazards associated with the operation and care of machines."

The revised OSHA guide identifies eight mechanical motions and eight hazardous actions that present possible amputation hazards. The guide also sets forth steps employers can take to reduce these hazards.

The material in Safeguarding Equipment and Protecting Employees from Amputations is appropriate for anyone responsible for the operation, servicing, and care of machines or equipment—employers, employees, safety professionals, and industrial hygienists. Topics covered in the latest document include hazard analysis, safeguarding machinery, awareness devices, and hazardous energy (lockout/tagout).

Printed copies of OSHA's revised guide are available by calling (202) 693-1888, or by writing U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA Publications, P.O. Box 37535, Washington, D.C. 20013-7535. 


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