Hazmat Incident Leaves Worker Severely Burned, Firm Facing $52K Penalty

OSHA has cited Monarch Oil Inc. of Omaha, Neb., for alleged safety and health violations following an accident investigation. Proposed penalties total $52,000.

The company specializes in asphalt emulsion, surfacing, and paving. OSHA cited Monarch following an investigation into an accident in Omaha where one of three workers, who was transferring asphalt from rail cars into storage tanks, was severely burned. The worker was covered by almost 240-degree asphalt released from an open valve on the transfer system due to a pressure increase that separated the transfer hose from the system.

"Dangers associated with the transfer of hazardous materials must be addressed and mitigated," said Charles Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. "It is imperative that employers take all necessary steps to inspect equipment and provide training for their workers to prevent accidents like this from occurring."

The inspection found six alleged serious and one alleged repeat violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Two serious violations relate to the improper use, storage, inspection, and maintenance of hoses used to transfer hazardous materials and the use of personal protective equipment as needed to address exposure to hazardous materials during the transfer process. One serious violation addresses the lack of guardrails atop storage tanks. The final three serious violations relate to the use of fixed ladders that either had no fall protection cages, inadequate cages, and/or side-rails that did not extend 3 feet 6 inches above the landing. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which an employer knew or should have known.

The alleged repeat violation relates to the employer's failure to train workers on the hazards of the chemicals in the work area. OSHA issues a repeat citation when the employer has been issued a violation for a substantially similar hazard in the previous three years that has become a final order. Monarch has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Omaha, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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