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Region 3 News Release: III-98-12-22-217-PA
Wednesday, December 23, 1998
Contact: Leni Uddyback, (215) 596-1130
OSHA ISSUES SAFETY AND HEALTH CITATIONS TO TWO PENNSYLVANIA COMPANIES AFTER HUNLOCK CREEK ACCIDENT; PROPOSES PENALTIES TOTALING $89,000
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited UGI Utilities, Hunlock Creek, Pa. and Powerplant Technologies, Inc., Williamsport, Pa. for alleged violations of occupational safety and health standards, and proposed $89,000 in penalties. UGI Utilities is an electrical power generation station and Powerplant, a UGI subcontractor, is a mechanical contracting service.
The inspection was initiated in July 1998 by a media referral when two Powerplant employees were burned with steam and hot water while repairing a heat exchanger at the site.
According to Andrew J. Hedesh, area director of the Wilkes-Barre OSHA office, UGI Utilities was cited for 11 serious violations, with a proposed penalty of $65,000. Powerplant, Inc. was cited for nine serious violations, with a proposed penalty of $24,000.
The alleged violations for both UGI and Powerplant were due to deficiencies in each company's energy control program, which resulted in the unexpected release of steam and hot water. Company procedures did not clearly outline steps for shutting down or securing machines or equipment to control the release of steam, hot water or other forms of hazardous energy. Employees were not adequately trained or protected by Lockout/Tagout devices, which prevent the inadvertent start-up of equipment or release of energy.
"It is important for employers to provide the proper safeguards to protect employees working under these potentially dangerous conditions,"states Hedesh, "Lockout/Tagout procedures are crucial to this protection."
Workers at the plant are at risk of being exposed to water temperatures as high as 650 degrees Fahrenheit, with pressures nearing 1500 pounds per square inch within the system.
A serious violation involves a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
The firms have 15 working days from receipt of the citations to either decide to comply, to request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The inspection was conducted by the Wilkes-Barre area office, 7 North Wilkes-Barre Boulevard, Wilkes-Barre, PA, (717) 826-6538.
This information will be made available to sensory-impaired individuals upon request. Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD). Telephone: 1-800-9273.
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