OSHA's Oklahoma City Area Office began its inspection Sept. 22, 2008, following a release of steam and heated petroleum coke – materials heated in an industrial process – that occurred the day before while workers were removing refractory brick used for lining furnaces in kiln chambers. Three workers employed by Geo. P. Reintjes Co. Inc., the subcontractor, were severely burned, one of whom later died.
"Health and safety standards must be followed to protect employees from injuries and fatalities," said David Bates, OSHA's area director in Oklahoma City, Okla. "If the company had followed OSHA standards, it is possible this tragic accident could have been avoided."
Oxbow Calcining, a subsidiary of the Oxbow Group headquartered in West Palm Beach, Fla., was cited with one willful violation for failing to follow written procedures for demolition of a refractory kiln. Citations also included two serious violations for failing to ensure employees were informed about the hazards associated with hot petroleum coke and failing to ensure workers were using the required personal protective equipment. OSHA proposed $75,600 in penalties for Oxbow Calcining.
Geo. P. Reintjes Co. Inc., doing business as Reintjes Refractory Contractors, was cited with nine serious violations, including failing to use safe operating procedures for normal shut-down and tear-out of refractory materials at the kiln chamber, failing to provide necessary machine guarding and failing to adequately erect scaffolding. OSHA's proposed penalties for Reintjes Refractory totaled $49,050.
Each company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Oklahoma City or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.