South Sioux City, IA – Electrical, mechanical, and chemical hazards were among the violations found at the Big Ox renewable energy plant following a six month OSHA investigation. The six serious violations issued there represent over $50,000 in fines.
Gas exposure first brought this facility to OSHA’s attention after a contractor working at the facility was hospitalized due to hydrogen sulfide exposure. Just two months later, a maintenance worker was treated and released in another incident of hydrogen sulfide exposure. Earlier this year, another two workers were suffered chemical exposure, and one was hospitalized for chemical burns.
Hazardous energy violations were also found at Big Ox Energy while OSHA conducted it’s investigation of the chemical exposure incidents.
OSHA reports show a failure to develop and implement energy control and lockout-tagout procedures for each piece of equipment, including Big Ox’s gas energy mixing system, centrifuge, raw-feed and digester pumps. According to OSHA, employees were exposed to electrical hazards, flowing wastewater, and chemical and mechanical hazards while performing equipment maintenance. Additional citations were issued for failing to ensure each authorized employee affixed his or her own lock or tag to certain devices prior to working on the equipment.
Confined space concerns were also cited. OSHA found a failure to retain confined space entry permits.
Additionally, Big Ox was cited for failure to ensure employees had eye and face protection to keep them safe from hazards like pressurized liquid wastewater. At the end of 2016, a Big Ox Energy employee wearing only safety glasses suffered lacerations, cheek and eye socket fractures, and chipped teeth after being struck by pressurized wastewater and a hose nozzle.
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