4.) Confined Spaces Is 19.5 Percent Oxygen Really Safe?

Room to Breathe: OSHA Fines Petroleum Refiner After Fatality

Oct. 11, 2019
Employee asphyxiates in confined space.

A petroleum refiner and industrial contractor are facing $106,080 in OSHA fines after failing to secure a permit-required confined space.

As a result not securing the area, a worker asphyxiated when he lost air supply while performing his duties.

"Employers should never allow workers to enter a space without properly evaluating the hazards and following required safety standards associated with entry,” said Ramona Morris, OSHA's Birmingham, Ala. area director.

Turner Specialty Services, the industrial contractor, did not ensure employees outside of the confined space were capable of rescue efforts at the refining facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The contractor also was cited for allowing a worker to enter the area with insufficient lighting equipment as well as assigning members of the rescue team to other tasks, preventing them from responding to an emergency situation.

Petroleum refiner Hunt Refining Co. did not identify all hazards of the confined space nor did the company documents all of the steps required to make sure employees were safe while performing work in confined spaces. Hunt also failing to ensure, through periodic evaluations, that Turner Specialty Services fulfilled their obligations as specified in the Process Safety Management standard, according to OSHA.

The agency cited the two companies for a total of $106,080 in proposed fines. Turner and Hunt have 15 business days to respond to the citations and proposed penalties, either through compliance, an informal conference with Morris, or through contesting the findings with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

About the Author

Stefanie Valentic

Stefanie Valentic was formerly managing editor of EHS Today, and is currently editorial director of Waste360.

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