Contractor Killed Making Safety Improvements, BP Says

A contractor who died at the same Texas City, Texas, refinery where a massive March 2005 explosion claimed the lives of 15 workers and injured 170 others was making safety improvements to the facility, according to BP Products America.

The worker was identified as Ronnie Graves, 52, an employee of JV Piping, which was contracted by BP to install piping for new flares at the refinery.

According to a statement issued by BP, Graves was in the basket of a man-lift when he became wedged between an I-beam structure and the control panel of the man-lift.

The company said BP Products emergency response personnel provided initial medical assistance. Graves was then transported by ambulance to the Mainland Medical Center and was pronounced dead at about 6:20 p.m. on July 22.

Bob Malone, BP America's newly named president, issued a statement that said in part, "[a]ny death anywhere in BP is unacceptable," and the recent tragedy made it clear it was necessary to make the refinery a "better, safer place."

As a result of the incident, BP suspended all non-essential work at the refinery to hold safety discussions with plant personnel, including contract workers. The suspension ended on July 25. In addition, BP says it suspended the use of motorized man-lifts until each one has been checked out.

OSHA is investigating the incident, and BP has begun an internal investigation in conjunction with JV Piping and other contractor companies involved, according to the company.

According to BP spokesman Ronnie Chappell, the accident had to do with construction equipment and was not related to the causes of last year's explosion.

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