Tag Archives: citations

Phillips 66 Refinery Fined Nearly $325,000 for Workplace Violations

Phillips 66 Refinery has been fined $324,000 for failing to correct serious workplace safety and health violations. A Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) inspection of the Ferndale, WA facility found the violations put refinery workers at great risk in case of a fire or explosion.

L&I cited the refinery for three instances of not correcting violations that it was previously cited for in September and October of 2014. These are considered “failure to abate” serious violations.

The 2014 citations are under appeal to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals. State law requires employers to correct hazards even if the violations are under appeal, unless a “stay of abatement” is granted to allow a delay in making the corrections. The company’s stay of abatement request was denied by the board.

Two of the violations, each with a penalty of $108,000, involve the refinery’s firefighting and fire suppression systems. Phillips did not inspect or follow recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices in respect to the firefighting water tank or the buried firefighting water distribution piping. Inspection and maintenance of these systems is required by state regulation and the National Fire Protection Association. The company also failed to address the potential loss of firefighting water, which puts employees and emergency responders at risk of serious injuries, disability or death if the system were to fail during a fire or explosion.

L&I cited Phillips for a third “failure to abate” serious violation for not consulting established, peer-reviewed industry references before writing a policy related to opening chemical piping. This violation also comes with a $108,000 penalty.

The company’s hazard assessment allowed workers to be potentially exposed to hydrogen sulfide, a poisonous gas, and explosive flammable hydrocarbon vapors at much higher concentrations than considered safe. Employers in high-hazard chemical industries are expected to make sure that their internal policies and guidelines reflect current good engineering practices across those industries and that they meet local regulations, which may be stricter than national regulations.

The employer has 15 days to appeal the citation. Penalty money paid as a result of a citation is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping workers and families of those who have died on the job.

 

Photo credit: RVWithTito via Foter.com / CC BY

Four Employers Cited in Fatal Bonney Lake, WA Bridge Collapse

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has cited and fined four construction contractors for workplace safety hazards on a Bonney Lake bridge project last April that turned fatal.

Part of the structure being demolished fell onto traffic below, killing Josh and Vanessa Ellis and their eight-month-old son, Hudson, when their vehicle passed under the overpass. See the KIRO-TV story about this tragic event here.

L&I has jurisdiction over worker safety, which is what the agency investigation focused on.

WHH Nisqually Federal Services, of Tacoma, was the general contractor for pedestrian improvements on the SR 410 overpass. WHH Nisqually contracted with HighMark Concrete Contractors of Buckley to do the concrete work. HighMark Concrete contracted with Staton Companies of Eugene, Ore., to remove a portion of the existing bridge. Staton hired Hamilton Construction of Springfield, Ore., to cut the concrete barrier. All four companies had workers on site.

“Demolition is one of the most hazardous operations in construction,” said Anne Soiza, assistant director for the L&I Division of Occupational Safety & Health. “Preparing and following a specific safety plan that anticipates the worst case conditions is critical. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen in this case.” 

Staton was fined $58,800 for one “willful” and two “serious” violations for exposing workers to danger while demolishing the concrete barrier on the overpass. Staton oversaw the cutting of the concrete barrier by its subcontractor, but failed to provide a demolition plan to the subcontractor. The investigation found that Staton had concerns about the possibility of the barrier falling down during cutting, yet still continued with the work.

Staton was cited for a willful violation for not ensuring a workplace free from recognized hazards. The company demolished the concrete barrier without following procedures in the demolition plan it developed. It was also cited for a serious violation for exposing workers on a lower level to the possibility of an unplanned collapse, and another serious violation for not ensuring the concrete barrier was secured or braced to prevent collapse during cutting.

Hamilton Construction was fined $14,700 for three serious violations for exposing workers to essentially the same hazards as Staton Companies. However, none of the violations was found to be willful.

WHH Nisqually was fined $8,400 for two serious violations for not ensuring a workplace free from recognized hazards and for exposing workers on the lower level to the possibility of an unplanned collapse.

Highmark Concrete Contractors was fined $4,900 for one serious violation, also for not ensuring a workplace free from recognized hazards.

A willful violation can be issued when L&I has evidence of plain indifference, a substitution of judgment or an intentional disregard of a hazard or rule. A serious violation exists in a workplace if there is a substantial probability that worker death or serious physical harm could result from a hazardous condition.

The employers have 15 business days from receipt of the citation to appeal.

 

Photo credit: KIRO-TV

 

BP Cherry Point refinery cited for willful and serious workplace safety violations, fined $81,500

Image © BP p.l.c.

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (DLI) has cited the BP Cherry Point petroleum refinery in Blaine for six violations, including one “willful violation,” of workplace safety and health rules related to management of pipeline and refinery processes. The proposed penalties total $81,500.

 

A willful violation is the most significant civil classification that can be issued.

 

A willful violation is the most significant civil classification that can be issued. It is used when DLI alleges that the violation was committed with intentional disregard or plain indifference or substitution of judgment with respect to worker safety and health regulations.

DLI began the inspection in February after a major fire caused the refinery to shut down for a period of time. One employee was nearby when the fire erupted, but he was able to escape without harm.

The fire occurred when a corroded “deadleg” pipe ruptured. Deadlegs are pipes that aren’t often used but still must be monitored for integrity for when they are needed to carry material used in the refining process.

DLI cited the company for a “willful” violation for not ensuring that inspection and testing procedures for process piping followed recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices for all deadleg piping circuits. The proposed penalty for the willful violation is $65,000.

The five additional violations cited were for failing to comply with Process Safety Management standards, the requirements for managing hazards associated with processes that use highly hazardous chemicals.

The company has until Sept. 13 to appeal the citation.  A copy of the citation is available upon request.

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