Provided by U.S. Department of Labor
LUBBOCK, Texas - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Cooper Natural Resources for 13 safety violations and proposed penalties of $58,100 for exposing workers to chemical hazards at its Loop, Texas, salt manufacturing plant.
The complaint inspection, which began in March, was initiated under the agency's complaint process and expanded to the Process Safety Management Covered Chemical Facilities National Emphasis Program. PSM encompasses a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must follow to address hazards proactively that are associated with processes and equipment that use large amounts of hazardous chemicals. In this case, it's the use of anhydrous ammonia.
Seven of the 12 serious violations involve deficiencies in PSM, including failing to compile process safety information for the safety systems, such as relief systems; ensure equipment complies with recognized and good engineering practices, such as discharge pipe locations; and perform a hazard analysis using methodology appropriate to the complexity of the system. They also include failing to establish a system to promptly address the process hazard analysis team's findings with a written schedule to assure that the deficiencies were corrected in a timely manner; inspect and test equipment, such as piping or compressors; and establish and implement procedures to manage changes to the process.
The remaining serious violations include failing to guard sprocket wheels, chains and clutch pulleys; identify the equipment that is used for damp or wet locations and subject to exposure to corrosive salt atmosphere; and ensuring that flexible cords and cables were connected to devices and fittings. 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 penalty for the serious violations total $49,700.
One repeat violation, with a penalty of $8,400, was cited for failing to keep workroom floors clean and dry. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. A similar violation was cited in 2010.
"Process safety management prevents the unexpected release of toxic, reactive or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals," said Joann Figueroa, OSHA's area director in Lubbock. "It's vital that Cooper Natural Resources ensure safeguards are in place to protect workers."
Cooper Natural Resources has 15 business days from receipt of citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director 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 Lubbock office at 806-472-7681.
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 assure 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.