Region 4 News Release: USDOL: 01-244
Thursday, Dec. 06, 2001
Contact: Roberto Sanchez
Phone: (205) 731-1534 ext.0
HUNT REFINING AGREES TO PAY $99,000 TO SETTLE OSHA CASE
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Hunt Refining Company has agreed to pay $99,000 following a safety and health inspection which began in response to an explosion at the company's crude oil refinery in Tuscaloosa, the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced.
The May 13th accident occurred as workers were preparing to relight a flare which burns waste gases. Petroleum products released through the system to the flare caused a fire and explosion which sent three employees to the hospital with burns.
"The agreement reached with Hunt Refining can go a long way in preventing a recurrence of this kind of accident," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's Birmingham area director. "Although the company has the right to contest citations, management decided instead to correct the violations and pay the monetary penalty. We are pleased by Hunt Refining's cooperation in correcting hazards to improve employee safety."
As an oil refinery, Hunt Refining is required to comply with the OSHA standard on process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals. OSHA's citations alleged that the company's process safety management program had deficiencies with regard to process hazard analysis, training on operating procedures and management of process changes.
The citations also alleged that Hunt Refining did not comply with all requirements of the confined spaces standard which requires employers to have detailed procedures in place when employees work in spaces that require permits for entry.
Violations involving the hazard communication standard were also noted. This standard requires employers to, among other things, develop and maintain a written hazard communication program which informs employees of the hazards of non-routine tasks and to ensure that containers of hazardous chemicals are properly identified with appropriate warnings.
As part of the agreement with OSHA, Hunt Refining committed to pay for training of local fire department units about hazards associated with the oil refining business and to provide training to the Tuscaloosa Fire Department and other employers by sponsoring "Safe State" off-site training.
"Hunt Refinery's positive approach to correcting workplace hazards, along with its pledge to provide local training opportunities, shows a commitment not only to its Tuscaloosa employees but to the surrounding community as well," said Sanchez.
Inspection of the Tuscaloosa refinery was conducted by compliance officers with OSHA's area office located at Todd Mall, 2047 Canyon Rd., Birmingham, Ala. 35216-1981; telephone: (205) 731-1534.