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Sept. 30, 2015 BOS 2015-183

AmeriGas Propane LP flouts safety standards designed to prevent catastrophe
Workers face chemical and fall hazards; OSHA proposes $135K in fines

HARTFORD, Conn. - AmeriGas Propane LP employees at the Southington terminal regularly transfer flammable, liquefied petroleum gas from railcars into 30,000- and 60,000-gallon storage tanks. Once filled, tanker trucks transport the gas elsewhere.

An inspection by the Hartford Area Office of the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration identified several serious and recurring deficiencies in the company's Process Safety Management, or PSM*, program. OSHA mandates requirements and procedures employers must follow to assess and address hazards associated with processes involving the use of more than 10,000 pounds of flammable liquids, including liquefied petroleum gas.

As a result of these conditions, OSHA cited AmeriGas, the nation's leading propane supplier, on Sept. 24, 2015, for three repeated and five serious violations of workplace safety and health standards. Proposed fines total $135,000. View the citations here*.

"An effective PSM program inspects and tests process equipment - it's not a paper exercise or a simple punch list. Regardless of industry, processes covered by this standard must be addressed adequately to avoid a catastrophic release of highly hazardous chemicals," said Warren Simpson, OSHA's area director in Hartford. "Some of the deficiencies found in Southington are similar to those cited at another AmeriGas location. This is disturbing. The company must step up to correct and prevent recurring hazards at all its workplaces."

OSHA found that AmeriGas did not inspect and establish mechanical integrity procedures for six storage tanks and the underground piping system at the Southington site. The company also did not inspect and test a piping system properly and failed to ensure accurate piping and instrument diagrams. OSHA had cited the company in April 2013 for similar hazards in Conroe, Texas.

The agency cited AmeriGas for the following serious violations:

  • Lacking process safety information about the piping system.
  • Failing to document the safe design of a 30,000-gallon storage tank.
  • Inadequately evaluating possible safety and health effects in the event of a controls failure.
  • Incorrectly rigging personal fall arrest systems to prevent falls for employees who worked atop railroad cars.
  • Lacking rescue procedures for employees who worked alone atop railroad cars in a remote area.

The nation's largest propane company, AmeriGas serves more than 2 million residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural and motor fuel locations in the U.S. It has headquarters in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Hartford Area Office at 860-240-3152.

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Media Contacts:

Ted Fitzgerald, 617-565-2075, fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov

Release Number: 15-1857-BOS


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