Wyoming OSHA Cites Sinclair Refinery for $707,000 in Proposed Fines, 22 Violations

10/28/2013

CHEYENNE -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration division (OSHA) within the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS) will cite the Sinclair Wyoming Refining Company with $707,000 in fines for 22 violations found at the company’s Sinclair, Wyoming refinery operation.

The violations are the result of a May 2013 OSHA inspection which stemmed from an employee complaint and several gas releases that Sinclair voluntarily reported to DWS OSHA in May of 2013.

“The OSHA investigation revealed a variety of hazards present at the site, along with repeat violations,” said Director of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services Joan Evans. “Every employer has a duty to ensure a healthy and safe working environment. Progress has been made since this inspection to address safety issues at the refinery and Wyoming OSHA will continue to work with the employer to prevent and address hazards.”

Monetary penalties go entirely to the local school district where the violation occurred.

Wyoming OSHA is currently conducting an investigation into an incident that occurred in September.

Willful Violations

During the inspection, OSHA found conditions that merit six willful violations. A willful violation is defined as a situation in which the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement (purposeful disregard) or acted with plain indifference to employee safety. Violations in the willful category total $420,000 in fines. Conditions found during the inspection include: Insufficient or no processes and no corrective action available or taken for a documented history of Hydrogen Sulfide and Sulfur Dioxide releases; inadequate or no training provided for operating procedures associated with processes and the hazards associated with the operation of the facility; and an emergency eyewash safety shower out of service despite three previous sets of citations for this violation.

Repeat Serious Violations

The inspection found conditions that merit six repeat serious violations. A repeat serious violation exists when the workplace hazard has been cited previously for the same or a substantially similar condition and could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm. Violations in the repeat serious category total $225,000 in fines. Conditions found during the inspection include: Operating procedure for the Alkylation Unit failed to address the hazards presented by the chemicals used in its processes; the operation failed to make known precautions necessary to prevent exposure including the use of personal protective equipment; and the employer failed to label numerous chemical containers to identify contents.

Serious Violations

The inspection found conditions that merit ten serious violations. A serious violation could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm. Violations in the serious category total $62,000 in fines. Conditions found during the inspection include: Failure to meet Process Safety Management standards or develop operating procedures in relation to the Aggressive Biological Treatment Unit (ABTU) charge pit and the Alkylation Unit; and failure to inform contract employees of the known potential toxic release hazards related to work activities in these and other units.

Previous citations issued by Wyoming OSHA can be found at the U.S. Department of Labor OSHA website.

Pursuant to federal law, Sinclair Refinery has 15 days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Commission.

To obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call 307-777-7786.

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