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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, April 21, 2014

Last Week's Significant Citations - Wyoming and California

OSHA defines a significant citation as one with more than $100,000 in proposed fines. An OSHA citation is a claim by OSHA that there has been a safety violation. It does not mean a violation has taken place, nor that the violation is as severe as claimed. The company has 15 days to contest OSHA claims. The following are the citations OSHA announced last week that have total fines of $100,000 or more.

Sinclair, WY Refinery Faces Citations Resulting from Sept 27 Incident ($201,000)
BART Fined For Accident That Killed 2 Transit Workers ($210,000)


The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Salt Lake City-based Sinclair Oil for seven violations stemming from a September 2013 incident at the Sinclair Refinery in Sinclair, Wyoming. An OSHA inspection following the September 27, 2013 explosion and subsequent fire resulted in seven citations and proposed penalties totaling $201,000. No injuries occurred as a result of the incident.

“The OSHA investigation revealed a variety of violations present that could have been prevented if the required internal inspections had been conducted and the necessary safety procedures had been followed,” said Director of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services Joan Evans. “Every employer has a duty to ensure a healthy and safe working environment. Sinclair has several health and safety related projects and improvements in process. We look forward to the long-term resolution of these issues.”

Monetary penalties go entirely to the local school district where the violations occurred.

The OSHA investigation found that an explosion and subsequent fire occurred at Sinclair Refinery’s #4 Hydro-Desulphurization (4HDS) Unit within the Hydrocracker Complex on Friday, September 27, 2013, at 10:10 p.m. Hydrogen​ embrittlement of a carbon steel control valve in the 4HDS Unit caused a leak of hydrogen which ignited. Hydrogen embrittlement is the process by which various metals become fatigued, brittle and fracture following exposure to hydrogen. The source of ignition is unknown. As a result, the control valve had deteriorated from the inside-out and caused the leak and subsequent explosion.

Sinclare, Wyoming Refinery in 2008 - Photo by Charles Willgren

The following citations were issued by OSHA as a result of the September 27 incident:

Willful Violations

During the inspection, OSHA found conditions that merit two willful violations. A willful violation is defined as a situation in which the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement (purposeful disregard) or acted with plain indifference to employee safety. Violations in the willful category total $140,000 in fines. The inspection found:
  • Citation 2-1: Adequate quality assurance review, which helps ensure the proper use of materials in construction and appropriate installation procedures, had not been performed for the flow control valve assembly. The valve was found to be carbon steel and was not suitable for the 4HDS unit.
  • Citation 2-2: Required inspection and testing of a corrosion-prone piping loop within the 4HDS unit had not been adequately performed. Repeat citation.
Repeat Serious Violations

The inspection found a condition that merits one repeat serious violation. A repeat serious violation exists when the workplace hazard has been cited previously for the same or a substantially similar condition and could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm. This violation carries a $35,000 fine.
  • Citation 3-1: A process hazard analysis, a careful review of what could go wrong and what safeguards must be implemented to prevent releases of hazardous chemicals, had not been performed to specifically address the consequences of failure of engineering and administrative controls within the required time period on the 4HDS Unit.
Serious Violations

The inspection found conditions that merit four serious violations. A serious violation could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm. Violations in the serious category total $26,000 in fines.
  • Citation 1-1: Adequate emergency response radio communication protocols were not properly in place at the time of the incident.
  • Citation 4-1: A process hazard analysis, a careful review of what could go wrong and what safeguards must be implemented to prevent releases of hazardous chemicals, had not been performed to specifically address the hazards present in the 4HDS process within the required time period.
  • Citation 4-2: A pre-start up safety review, a full evaluation of initial start up procedures and normal operating procedures to ensure a safe transfer into the normal operating mode, was not adequately performed within the required time period.
  • Citation 4-3: Initial air quality monitoring was not conducted immediately following the explosion.

BART Train - Photo by Franco Folini
Cal/OSHA cited the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) last week for willful serious safety violations that resulted in two workers being killed by a fast-moving train in Walnut Creek (California) last October. The citations carry proposed penalties totaling $210,000.

Cal/OSHA issued the citations for three willful serious violations after its investigation found the following:
  • The two workers who were killed, Christopher D. Sheppard and Laurence E. Daniels, did not meet the qualifications to perform work near hazardous energized third-rails. Sheppard was a BART special projects manager, Daniels was a contractor and consulting engineer.
  • A trainee was at the controls when the accident occurred—his trainer, a high-ranking transportation manager, was seated in the passenger car with other BART managers and another trainee. He could not view the track from his vantage point in the passenger car.
  • BART’s “simple approval” procedures for employees working on the tracks were both inadequate and not followed.
When the accident occurred on October 19th, trains were being operated on a non-passenger basis. BART train 963, a four-car train operating in automatic mode traveling at more than 65 miles per hour with an inexperienced operator-in-training at the controls, was proceeding to its destination of Pleasant Hill station around 1:45 p.m. The high-ranking manager designated as the trainer was seated in the passenger area with three BART managers and another trainee instead of maintaining a position next to the trainee in the control cab. Although he could see the trainee at the controls from behind the open control cab door, the trainer was not located in a position to closely view the trainee’s actions and observe the track. The trainee saw the workers and was attempting to sound the horn and stop the train when the workers were struck.

BART had its “simple approval” authorization process in place at the time of the accident, which made employees working on train tracks responsible for their own safety. On two previous occasions, in 2001 and 2008, employees were fatally injured while operating under “simple approval” authorization. Cal/OSHA issued citations after investigations of both incidents. The day after the 2013 fatality accident, BART suspended the “simple approval” process for track maintenance.

Cal/OSHA issues citations for serious workplace safety violations when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious physical harm could result from the actual hazard created by the violation. The violation is classified as willful when an employer is aware that a hazardous condition exists and no reasonable effort is made to eliminate the hazard.


Related Past Posts:
Fall Hazards, Lack of Guarding and LOTO Result In Citations
$2,300,000 Fine Announced by OSHA
OSHA Significant Citations

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