Refinery Faces Fines over Safety Issues

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 @ 09:03 PM gHale

A north Louisiana oil refinery is facing over $200,000 in fines for exposing workers to the threat of fires, explosions and other hazardous conditions, said officials at the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Calumet Lubricants Co. in Cotton Valley, LA, is facing citations for 58 safety violations and fines totaling $207,500.

OSHA’s Petroleum Refinery Process Safety Management National Emphasis Program emphasizes the management of hazards associated with highly hazardous chemicals and establishes a comprehensive management program that integrates technologies, procedures and management practices.

“This is not the first time a Calumet facility has jeopardized the safety of its workers by failing to manage hazards associated with highly hazardous chemicals,” said Dorinda Folse, OSHA’s area director in Baton Rouge. “Regardless of the industry, there is a potential for an accidental release any time hazardous chemicals are not properly controlled.”

Serious violations include failing to conduct adequate inspections and testing of piping and pressure vessels; ensure that employees in process and administrative buildings had adequate protection in case of an explosion; implement written operating procedures; resolve recommended actions resulting from compliance audits; provide an adequate confined space program; and provide an adequate lockout/tagout program for the control of hazardous energy. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Other-than-serious violations include failing to provide the required machine guarding and correct electrical hazards. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

The company, a subsidiary of Indianapolis, IN-based Calumet Specialty Products Partners, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to contest the proposed penalties.