Thursday, March 26, 2009

Colorado Refinery Faces Safety Fines

A Colorado petrolium refinery may pay $130,500 in safety and health violations resulting from an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA has cited Suncor Energy (U.S.A.) Inc. for safety and health violations. The petroleum refinery in Commerce City, Colo., has 384 employees.

Suncor received 26 serious violations as a result of OSHA's investigation. The investigation was part of a National Emphasis Program focusing on petroleum refinery process safety management

"Failure to follow OSHA's process safety management standard can lead to a catastrophic failure in a refinery," said Herb Gibson, the agency's area office director in Denver, Colo. "It is imperative that Suncor Energy abate these hazards to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for its employees."

The willful violation is due to the company's failure to appropriately test gas monitors for hydrogen sulfide and combustible gas in the HVAC systems for the control rooms, according to OSHA.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Suncor's serious violations include numerous instances of the company's failures to:

* follow the process safety management standard for the processing of hazardous chemicals;

* address safe distances and refuge for the emergency response plan;

* provide industrial trucks which are rated for hazardous locations; and

* guard ladder way openings.

A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA operates a vigorous enforcement program, conducting almost 39,000 inspections and finding nearly 88,000 violations of its standards and regulations in fiscal year 2008.

Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

OSHA's role is to promote the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit

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