South Dakota Refinery, Construction Company Cited After Worker Suffers Fatal Burns

The worker suffered the injuries after ethanol ignited during an expansion project.

A pipefitter in South Dakota suffered fatal burn injuries after ethanol spilled from a process pipe he was working on and ignited by flames at a nearby welding station. As a result, OSHA has cited the refinery and the construction company, issuing eight serious safety violations in all.

Bilfinger-Westcon, the worker's employer, has been cited for five serious safety violations after the inspection determined the contractor allowed welding work to happen without verifying the safety of the area.

OSHA also cited the refinery owner and operator, Sioux River Ethanol LLC, for three serious violations of OSHA’s process safety management standards, including failing to ensure the process pipe being removed did not contain ethanol.

"This death was needless and preventable if critical safety standards had been followed," said Sheila Stanley, OSHA's area director in Sioux Falls. "Communication between the host employer and all contractors is critical in working safely at any site covered by the Process Safety Management Standard. All aspects of permit systems including hot work and line break must be implemented to ensure that welding activities do not occur near line break activities where flammable materials may be released."

OSHA has proposed $62,355 in penalties.

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