Lazarus Energy LLC cited by US Labor Department's OSHA for exposing
workers to chemical hazards at its Nixon, Texas, refinery; fines total $43,400
NIXON, Texas – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Lazarus Energy LLC for 11 safety violations, with proposed penalties totaling $43,400, mainly for exposing workers to chemical hazards at its Nixon refinery. The inspection, which began in July 2013 after a referral from the Environmental Protection Agency, focused on the refinery's process safety management program for handling flammable liquids in excess of 10,000 pounds.
"Process safety management programs are designed to prevent the catastrophic release of highly hazardous chemicals and must constantly be updated," said Casey Perkins, OSHA's area director in Austin. "The refinery, in this case, needs to ensure all equipment, processes and new installations receive the proper evaluation and scrutiny before the production of highly hazardous chemicals."
Process safety management encompasses a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must follow to address hazards proactively that are associated with processes and equipment that use threshold quantities of hazardous chemicals. In this case, the majority of violations relate to potential fire and explosion hazards stemming from the distillation of sweet crude oil into products, such as naphtha, kerosene and diesel fuels.
The 10 serious process safety management violations cited include failing to compile process safety information for piping, vessels and other equipment properly; update and complete a thorough process hazard analysis; resolve previous process hazard analysis action items; update communication operating procedures; compile and implement written procedures for mechanical integrity; and implement a management of change program. 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 other-than-serious violation involves failing to initiate and maintain record keeping of the OSHA 300 injury and illness logs for the 2012 calendar year. 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.
OSHA's standards contain specific requirements for the management of hazards associated with processes using dangerous chemicals. Additional information is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/processsafetymanagement/index.html.
Lazarus Energy, a subsidiary of Lazarus Energy Holdings and Blue Dolphin, is headquartered in Houston and employs about 60 workers, including 45 in Nixon. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Austin Area Office, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report 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 Austin Area Office at 512-374-0271.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 292-693-7828 or TTY 292-693-7755.