Oilfield Solutions: More Safety Violations

Thursday, July 18, 2013 @ 07:07 PM gHale

Oilfield Solutions Inc. faces $74,800 in fines for 33 safety violations for deficiencies in its process safety management program and for exposing workers to other workplace hazards at its Midland, TX, oil field chemical manufacturing plant, said Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials.

The inspection, which began in January, came about under the agency’s Process Safety Management Covered Chemical Facilities National Emphasis Program.

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Process safety management (PSM) encompasses a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must follow to address proactively hazards associated with processes and equipment that use large amounts of hazardous chemicals. In this case, it’s the use of formaldehyde and flammable liquids, such as alcohols and toluene.

Nine of the 31 serious violations involve deficiencies in the PSM, including failing to compile process safety information for the safety systems, such as emergency shutdowns; ensure equipment complies with recognized and good engineering practices, such as relief systems; perform a process hazard analysis using methodology appropriate to the complexity of the process; and inspect and test equipment, such as vessels and piping.

The remaining serious violations include failing to develop and implement procedures for the control of hazardous energy, conduct a workplace assessment of required personal protective equipment, provide hazard communication training and provide medical evaluations and conduct respirator fit testing.

Other serious violations include failing to use appropriate electrical equipment in areas where flammable vapors could occur, move obstructions from emergency exits and fire extinguishers, provide adequate emergency eyewash and shower stations for workers handling corrosives, remove equipment from walkways and provide railings on platforms. 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.

The two other-than-serious violations include failing to ensure that an OSHA 300A injury-and-illness form was properly certified and certify the training and evaluation of forklift operators. 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.

In April 2013, Oilfield Solutions Inc. received eight serious violations following an inspection of a chemical release at the facility in December 2012. The employer has agreed to settle this previous case and has entered into an informal settlement agreement.

“Process safety management prevents the catastrophic release of toxic, reactive or flammable liquids and gases,” said Joann Figueroa, OSHA’s area director in El Paso. “By disregarding OSHA’s standards, this employer endangered the facility’s workers.”

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