The accident occurred June 5 as employees welded pipes connecting used oil storage tanks.
Vapors in one tank that contained oil residue traveled through the piping. Sparks then ignited the vapors. Subsequent explosions and fires resulted in the death of three workers and the hospitalization of another.
"These employees' lives could have been saved if this employer had followed the OSHA standards requiring purging of containers and piping prior to welding," said Clyde Payne, OSHA's Jackson, Miss., area director.
OSHA issued 13 serious citations to the company. The citations allege Stringer:
- Allowing welding in an explosive atmosphere;
- Failure to properly ventilate or take measures to prevent heat or sparks from entering piping and tanks;
- Failure to provide fall protection for employees working on top of oil tanks; and
- Lack of written safety programs for hazard communication, confined spaces and training for employees.