A Texas newspaper takes a look at how the $118,300 OSHA fine for the West Fertilizer explosion stacks up against those for other catastrophic workplace incidents. Its conclusion: OSHA fines aren’t proportional to loss of life.
Process Safety Management
The federal agency that investigates workplace disasters involving chemicals has identified its seven most important chemical safety improvement goals. The agency’s reason for choosing these specific goals: catastrophes that have killed dozens of workers, injured hundreds more and caused millions of dollars in property damage.
Many items on our “watch list” for OSHA in 2014 had some significant developments this year:
A federal agency is recommending a major shift in the way refineries are regulated for safety, shifting more responsibility to the company and turning the system more proactive instead of reactive.
Oil giant BP says it will pay $13 million in fines to settle an OSHA case. It’s not about Deepwater Horizon. The origin of this case goes back more than seven years.
You know OSHA will send inspectors to a facility when there is a fatality or multiple serious injuries. But chemicals leaks will also bring inspectors calling.
Chevron has agreed to pay a $1 million fine in a settlement with California regarding the August 2012 Richmond Refinery fire. On top of that, the oil producer will also spend at least $20 million upgrading equipment and procedures beyond what’s required by state regulations.
Process safety management fines are commonly tied to chemical manufacturers or refineries. But this case shows any company with refrigeration units can be hit with process safety penalties.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board says the Feb. 18, 2015, explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, CA, was caused by “multiple process safety management deficiencies.” The CSB also contends the situation easily could’ve been much worse.
A federal investigation into the fatal fire and explosion at the West Fertilizer plant in Texas points to shortcomings in existing regulations, standards and guidance. Does this case show there is a real need for more safety regulation?
Turns out OSHA made some additional changes to procedures surrounding injury reports.
A report from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) says a large explosion at Carbide Industries (CI) in Louisville, KY, that killed two workers and injured two others resulted from a failure by the company to investigate similar but smaller explosions over many years.
Imagine being able to get an exemption from an OSHA regulation due to who buys your product. The fertilizer plant in Texas that recently exploded, killing 15 people, may have been doing just that.
Calling it his “big announcement” at the National Safety Council’s annual conference and expo, OSHA administrator David Michaels said the agency is moving to a new enforcement system that will shift inspection resources toward more complex hazards.
OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) standard applies to fireworks manufacturing but not to fireworks disposal. Had the standard applied to disposal, a required hazard analysis could have saved five workers who were killed in an explosion.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board says failure to follow proper chemical process safety management caused an explosion in West Virginia last year that killed two employees. One of the workers was hospitalized 41 days with burns before he died.
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