OSHA Petroleum Refinery Emphasis Program Nets $240,750 in Proposed Penalties

OSHA has cited Sinclair Tulsa Refining Co. with one alleged willful and one serious following an inspection at the company's crude oil refinery in Tulsa. Proposed penalties total $240,750. OSHA's Oklahoma City Area Office began its investigation Feb. 4 at the company's facility on 25th Street in Tulsa.

The inspection was initiated as part of OSHA's National Emphasis Program for Petroleum Refineries, which has mandated inspections for refineries across the nation.

"Failure to effectively implement OSHA's process safety management regulations to protect employees from potential hazards at high risk facilities, such as petrochemical refineries, will not be tolerated," said David Bates, OSHA's area director in Oklahoma City, Okla. "This planned inspection has identified hazards for corrective action to help prevent accidents or injuries."

The willful citation was issued for failing to promptly address hazards identified in a process hazard analysis (PHA) conducted in 1995. The PHA, required by OSHA standards, identified electrical equipment in a crude unit control room capable of creating an ignition source for flammable vapors.

The PHA also identified the need to provide early warning devices for flammable and toxic releases. These hazards had not been corrected at the time of the February 2009 OSHA inspection. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The serious citation, which includes 38 violations, was issued for hazards associated with process safety management, portable fire extinguishers, emergency response and evacuation, benzene, hexavalent chromium, electrical deficiencies, chemical storage, fall protection, compressed gas cylinders, and walking/working surfaces. A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Sinclair Tulsa Refining, a subsidiary of Salt Lake City-based Sinclair Oil Corp., employs about 260 workers in Tulsa. The company has 15 business days from receipt of citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Oklahoma City, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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