Sulphur, LA – After a flash fire and subsequent explosion, OSHA initiated an investigation at a chemicals facility in Sulphur, Louisiana. The tragedy occurred during preventive care and maintenance activities, and it seriously injured six workers on Sept. 27, 2021.
According to OSHA’s investigation, the contract employer didn’t instruct each contract employee on the known potential hazards. The incident has exposed workers to fire, explosion, and toxic release hazards related to isolation plug failure at the Quench tower pipe.
Subsequently, OSHA issued citations with 11 serious violations as summarized below, to four employers, and the total penalties amounted to $139,427:
- Lack of safe work practices
- Confined space permit violations
- Confined space training
- Exposure to airborne concentrations of benzene
- Struck-by hazards
- Flash fire and explosions hazards
- Not performing process equipment inspections
Confined Space Serious Violations and Citations
Of which, OSHA cited the below confined space related violations with a total fine of $30,453.
- 29 CFR 1910.146(c)(8)(iv): The host employer did not coordinate entry operations when both host employer personnel and contractor personnel were working in or near permit spaces. The violation has exposed workers to explosion hazards at the DA-101 Quench Tower.
- 29 CFR 1910.146(d)(2): Under the permit-required confined space program required by 29 CFR 1910.146(c)(4), the employer did not identify and evaluate the hazards of permit spaces before employees entered. The hazards were associated with isolating the space and the welding space, exposing workers to explosion hazards.
- 29 CFR 1910.146(f)(7): The entry permit that documented compliance and authorized entry to a permit space did not identify the permit space’s hazards. The company didn’t identify the hazards associated with isolating the DA-101 Quench Tower and welding on the DA-101 Quench Tower. This violation has exposed employees to the explosion hazards
“Employers are responsible for ensuring employees have a safe workplace by having the correct confined space permits and a plan to inspect equipment to prevent serious injuries,” said Area Director Roderic Chube in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “In addition, employers should also ensure that employees are not exposed to an airborne concentration of benzene above the permissible exposure limits.”
In summary, Martin Technical encourages all organizations to provide proper confined space training to their employees. Safety training for employees helps prevent accidents and avoid fines, ensuring the highest level of workplace safety. Also, learn more about state-of-the-art VR training with modules on Confined Spaces Virtual Reality (VR) Training. VR training provides safer safety training enabling trainees to experience real-world consequences, all while retaining more of what they learn. Employers can also have their trainees demonstrate and validate their skills remotely using VR training. VR safety training also significantly reduces human error and provides trainee data to track the completion and accuracy of tasks.
Read more from the original source.
Resources and Helpful Information
- Enforcement Policy for Welding, Cutting, and Heating in Confined Spaces.
- Confined spaces in construction.
- Permit-Required Confined Spaces in General Industry. OSHA QuickCards™, (OSHA 3214-2011). Also available in Spanish.
- Confined spaces standard and enforcement.