Refinery Fined $357,750 for Willful Chemical, Explosion Hazards, More

OSHA is proposing $357,750 in penalties for three willful and 58 serious safety violations found at Hunt Refining Co.'s Sandersville, Miss., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., oil refineries. Proposed penalties for the Sandersville plant alone total $216,900 and account for two of the willful and 35 of the serious charges.

The agency issued willful violations at the Sandersville site for management's failure to recognize and evaluate fire and explosion hazards from electrical equipment in the process area and failure to address hazards to employees situated in a control room in close proximity to process equipment. Serious safety issues at the site include numerous violations of process safety management standards, lack of safety training for employees, and employee exposure to electrical and fall hazards.

"It is inexcusable for employees to be situated next to the process operation and have them use equipment that could serve as an ignition source for an explosion," said Clyde Payne, director of OSHA's Area Office in Jackson, Miss.

Hunt's Tuscaloosa facility received one willful and 23 serious safety citations with penalties totaling $140,850. The willful violation addresses hazards associated with the company's failure to inspect and test process vessels, which could lead to equipment being unable to contain hazardous chemicals. Serious violations include excessive dust accumulation, employee exposure to electrical hazards, and 16 violations of process safety management standards.

"By not performing needed tests, management is gambling with employees' safety by operating equipment that may fail and result in a fire or explosion," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's area director in Birmingham, Ala.

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