US Labor Department's OSHA cites Plains Gas Solutions following
explosion at Eunice, La., facility that severely injured worker
EUNICE, La. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Plains Gas Solutions LLC in Eunice for one willful and seven serious violations involving OSHA's process safety management standards following an explosion and fire that severely burned a worker.
OSHA began its investigation Feb. 29 at the company's facility on Fournat Road in Eunice, which specializes in the production of liquid natural gas through a cryogenic process. The incident occurred while employees were restarting the process. Cryogenic liquids were improperly routed through equipment not rated to withstand extreme cold temperatures, resulting in the explosion and fire.
"Process safety management prevents the unexpected release of toxic, reactive or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals," said Dorinda Folse, OSHA's area director in Baton Rouge. "The terrible incident that occurred at this facility could have been prevented had the company adhered to OSHA's standards."
The willful violation is for failing to conduct an analysis of pre-startup safety conditions and systematically managing changes to process-related technology, equipment, procedures and facilities. 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.
Serious violations include failing to ensure the accuracy of process safety and provide a process hazard analysis addressing low temperature deviations, ensure that operating procedures are kept current, complete incident investigation reports and establish a consistent method of documenting changes in the process. 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.
Plains Gas Solutions is a subsidiary of Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline LP, which employs about 3,800 workers in Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.
Proposed penalties total $111,000. The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/PlainsGasSolutions.pdf*.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Baton Rouge or contest the findings 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 Baton Rouge Area Office at 225-298-5458.
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 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.
* Accessibility Assistance Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.