Inadequate Process Safety Cited in $202,000 Penalty against Refinery

OSHA has cited Sunoco Inc. in Marcus Hook, Pa., for workplace safety and health violations, proposing a total of $202,000 in penalties. The agency initiated an investigation as part of its National Emphasis Program focused on petroleum refinery process safety management. As a result of the investigation, the company has been issued citations for five repeat violations, with a penalty of $125,000, and 20 serious violations, with a penalty of $77,000.

"The identified violations leave employees at the refinery vulnerable to accidents that could result in injury or possible death," said Al D'Imperio, area director of OSHA's Philadelphia Office.

The repeat violations include the company's failure to maintain diagrams that accurately reflect refinery piping structures and equipment, develop and implement adequate written operating procedures, and update process safety information. OSHA issues repeat violations when it finds a substantially similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order issued to the same employer within the previous three years.

The serious violations were due to deficiencies in the company's process safety management system including an inadequate process hazard analysis, inaccurate documentation of inspections and tests, and the lack of a system for promptly and effectively resolving incident report findings and recommendations. The company also did not provide employees with protective equipment whenever a hazard capable of causing serious injury was encountered. Contractor employees were exposed to corrosive materials and were not provided suitable cleanup facilities, OSHA said. The agency issues a serious citation when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

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

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