DuraLabel's Weekly Safety News

Blog Author Angelique Sanders

Weekly safety news. Stay in touch with regulations from OSHA, NFPA, and other safety codes. Find out about other companies' best and worst practices. We scour the internet to provide you with helpful training resources and the latest safety information.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Last Week's Significant OSHA Citations

The following is normally a summary of OSHA and state OSHA significant citations that have proposed fines over $100,000 that were announced during the week ending February 2nd.

The following are based on a press releases from OSHA and other sources. We are now including reports from states, such as California, in which the state has responsibility for workplace safety enforcement.

Chevron hit with highest CAL/OSHA fine allowed for Aug. 6 refinery fire ($963,200)
Panthera Painting fined by OSHA for exposing workers to lead, other hazards ($459,844)

Smoke from Chevron fire drifts over the Bay area.
Photo by Frank Schulenburg
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has issued 25 citations against Chevron USA, with proposed penalties totaling nearly $1 million, for state safety standard violations related to the August 6, 2012 fire at Chevron’s Richmond refinery. The citations include eleven “willful serious” and twelve “serious” violations, resulting in the highest penalties in Cal/OSHA’s history.

The penalties of $963,200 against Chevron are the highest allowed under state law.

On August 6, 2012, a fire broke out at the refinery when a severely corroded pipe in Chevron’s #4 Crude Unit began leaking. Chevron managers did not shut down the unit but instructed workers to remove insulation, which led to the pipe’s rupture and a massive fire. While there were no serious worker injuries, a reported 15,000 residents of surrounding communities sought treatment after breathing emissions from the fire.

Cal/OSHA immediately launched an investigation into the fire and the leak repair procedures throughout the refinery, and found the following:
  • Chevron did not follow the recommendations of its own inspectors and metallurgical scientists to replace the corroded pipe that ultimately ruptured and caused the fire. Those recommendations dated back to 2002.
  • Chevron did not follow its own emergency shutdown procedures when the leak was identified, and did not protect its employees and employees of Brand Scaffolding who were working at the leak site.
Twenty-three violations were classified as “serious” due to the realistic possibility of worker injuries and deaths in the fire. Eleven of these serious violations were also classified as “willful” because Cal/OSHA found Chevron did not take reasonable actions to eliminate refinery conditions that it knew posed hazards to employees, and because it intentionally and knowingly failed to comply with state safety standards.

The “willful serious” violations include the following:
  • Chevron did not follow its own policies or act on repeated recommendations to replace the corroded pipe that ultimately ruptured; 
  • Chevron did not test pipe thickness in areas identified as susceptible to corrosion and leaks because of the high temperature and high-sulfur content of the crude oil;
  • Chevron did not implement its own emergency procedures to shut down the Crude Unit where the leak occurred, and exposed workers to harm by directing them to remove insulation;
  • Chevron did not recognize the potential for a catastrophic release of ignitable diesel fuel from the leaking pipe, and ordered contractor employees to erect a scaffold at the leak site;
  • Chevron allowed workers to enter the hazardous incident zone without proper personal protective equipment;
  • Chevron had pervasive violations in its leak repair procedures throughout the refinery. Cal/OSHA investigators identified leaks in pipes that Chevron had clamped as a temporary fix. In some cases the clamps remained in place for years, rather than replacing the pipes themselves.
There were also violations in Chevron’s overall implementation of its own “process safety management” (PSM) procedures, required by Cal/OSHA of all refineries. PSM regulations require refineries to implement a comprehensive safety plan that includes a precise determination of what hazards exist and procedures to eliminate or reduce them. Employers must ensure that machinery and equipment are in good condition, that work procedures are safe, that hazards are controlled, and that workers are trained to safely operate the equipment, recognize hazards and respond appropriately in emergency situations.

Cal/OSHA has ongoing investigations for Chevron at its El Segundo refinery in the Los Angeles area and its oilfield in Lost Hills near Bakersfield.

Copies of the citations issued today against Chevron as well as Brand Scaffolding are posted online.

Chevron has already paid out over $10 million to cover medical and other claims resulting from the accident. (Read more here.)

Montezuma bridge over the Wabash River
OSHA has cited Canonsburg-based Panthera Painting Inc. with 38 alleged violations, including 14 willful and 11 repeat violations, found at bridge work sites in Slatington, Harrisburg and Slatedale, PA, where workers were exposed to lead and other safety and health hazards while performing abrasive blasting and repainting projects. The proposed penalties total $459,844.

The willful violations, with $365,750 in fines, include failing to properly protect workers from exposure to lead and failure to provide fall protection.

The repeat violations, with $63,294 in proposed penalties, relate to:
  • employee exposure to lead above the permissible exposure level
  • not having warning signs posted in lead work areas
  • failing to ensure workers showered at the end of each work shift
  • not providing medical evaluations and fit tests for respirator users
  • not notifying employees of the results of lead monitoring
  • not providing workers with initial medical surveillance for lead
  • not providing blood tests every two months for employees exposed to lead
  • failure to certify the OSHA 300 injury and illness logs and monitor data in the lead compliance programs. 
A repeat violation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar violations were cited in 2011.

Due to the willful and repeat violations, Panthera has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. For more information on the program, visit http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=DIRECTIVES&p_id=4503.

Eleven serious violations with $30,800 in penalties were cited for:
  • allowing workers to have and/or consume food in the area where lead exposure was above the permissible level
  • not notifying employees in writing of blood lead test results within five days
  • lack of guarding on electric wiring to prevent accidental contact
  • failing to ensure workers wore respirators while blasting with glass media or when exposed to lead in excess of permissible limits
  • failing to provide personal protective equipment for workers when blasting
  • failing to provide a dead man switch on the blasting nozzle
  • not providing the proper filter for the vacuum used for cleaning lead and cadmium
  • not training workers on the physical and health hazards of the chemical to which they were exposed
 A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company was also cited for two other-than-serious violations that had no penalty. One for failing to indicate when a filter had been changed on a compressor. The other was for failing to notify workers in writing of blood lead test results within five days. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

Panthera has been inspected by OSHA five times in the last five years with four of these inspections resulting in the issuance of serious citations.

The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/PantheraPaint_549982_646238_01-25-13.pdf.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Related Past Posts:

Significant OSHA Citations - Week Ending January 28th
Significant OSHA Citations - Week Ending January 19th
Significant OSHA Citations - Week Ending January 12th


posted by Steve Hudgik
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