U.S. Department of Labor's OSHA Proposes $357,000 In Penalties Against Hunt Refining For Safety Violations At Two Facilities

                               

Atlanta, GA (CompNewsNetwork) - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing $357,750 in penalties for three willful and 58 serious safety violations found at Hunt Refining Co.'s Sandersville, Miss., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., oil refineries.

OSHA is proposing $216,900 in penalties for two willful and 35 serious safety citations at the Sandersville plant. The willful citations were issued for management's failure to recognize and evaluate fire and explosion hazards from electrical equipment in the process area and failure to address hazards to employees situated in a control room in close proximity to process equipment. Serious safety issues include numerous violations of process safety management standards, lack of safety training for employees, and employee exposure to electrical and fall hazards.

"It is inexcusable for employees to be situated next to the process operation and have them use equipment that could serve as an ignition source for an explosion," said Clyde Payne, director of OSHA's Jackson Area Office.

The Tuscaloosa facility received one willful and 23 serious safety citations with penalties totaling $140,850. The willful violation addresses hazards associated with Hunt Refining Co.'s failure to inspect and test process vessels, which could lead to equipment being unable to contain hazardous chemicals. Serious violations include excessive dust accumulation, employee exposure to electrical hazards and 16 violations of process safety management standards.

"By not performing needed tests, management is gambling with employees' safety by operating equipment that may fail and result in a fire or explosion," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's area director in Birmingham, Ala.

Hunt Refining Co. has 15 business days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The Sandersville site was inspected by staff from OSHA's Jackson Area Office, 3780 I-55 North, Suite 210; telephone 601-965-4606. The Tuscaloosa site was inspected by staff from OSHA's Birmingham Area Office at 950 22nd St., Room 1050; telephone 205-731-1534.

OSHA operates a vigorous enforcement program, conducting more than 39,000 inspections in fiscal year 2007 and exceeding its inspection goals in each of the last eight years. In fiscal year 2007, OSHA found nearly 89,000 violations of its standards and regulations.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

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