Worker Injuries Bring Safety Fines

Monday, November 19, 2012 @ 03:11 PM gHale

Vann Energy Services LLC in Nixon, TX, is facing $246,000 in fines for 13 safety and health violations, including two willful and three repeat, for exposing workers to flash fires and other hazards, said Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials.

OSHA’s Austin Area Office opened an inspection after two workers suffered injuries from a fire that occurred in an oil and gas field tank.

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“The employer was notified in August 2011 of possible fire hazards, yet failed to take corrective action and ultimately two workers suffered the consequences,” said Casey Perkins, OSHA’s area director in Austin. “Failing to implement safety precautions and continuing to put workers’ lives at risk is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Inspectors found the employer had failed to ensure it tested the air inside the tank for flammable or toxic materials before providing employees with electrical equipment capable of causing a potentially flammable environment to ignite.

The repeat violations include failing to provide eye and face protection, communicate chemical hazard information to workers and protect flexible electric cords from damage. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously faced citations for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. OSHA cited the company for similar violations in August 2011.

One of the willful violations involves failing to implement a respiratory protection program that includes an evaluation of respiratory hazards, medical evaluations for workers, fit testing, training, and the proper means to clean and store the respirators. The other violation involves failing to implement a permit-required confined space entry program that includes atmospheric testing, proper written permits, a qualified attendant and rescue plans. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Eight serious violations include failing to ensure electrical equipment such as a portable lamp has approval for hazardous locations, maintaining electrical conductors and cords in a safe operating condition, training workers on the proper use of personal protective equipment, consult workers on confined space entry procedures and maintain fire extinguishers in a proper working condition. 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.

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