Worker's Death in Texas Prompts Oklahoma Inspection

April 3, 2003
An explosion at a Reliant Processing Group worksite in Muleshoe, Texas, in September resulted in the death of a worker. As a result, OSHA inspected a Guymon, Okla., issued citations and proposed penalties totaling $70,000.

OSHA began its investigation of Reliant following an accident in which an employee was killed when the tank he was insulating exploded at the Texas facility. The tank was filled with carbon dioxide. No other workers were injured. The company employs about 300 workers, 10 of whom worked in Muleshoe.

The company was cited for one alleged willful violation for exposing employees to a struck-by hazard associated with the sudden and catastrophic failure of carbon dioxide storage tanks. The explosion was related to a build-up of excessive pressure and brittle fracturing of two tanks due to extremely low temperatures. A willful violation is defined as an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the OSHA law and regulations.

"Adhering to recognized and generally accepted engineering control practices as set out in OSHA's safety procedures may have prevented this accident," said Edward Cosgrove, area director of OSHA's Lubbock area office. "The company's failure to provide a safe and healthful working environment contributed to the worker's death."

Reliant Processing, headquartered in Odessa, Texas, processes carbon dioxide gas for bottling and beverage companies.

The accident in Muleshoe prompted an investigation at the Reliant plant in Guymon, Okla. whose operations are similar. The investigation conducted by OSHA's Oklahoma City area office resulted in citations at the Guymon plant with penalties totaling $70,650. Reliant Processing Group, LLC has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to either comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Lubbock office, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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