OSHA Smackdown: $1.4 million in Fines to CES
One January 4th OSHA issued citations against Chemical & Environmental Services LLC, a Houston-based waste management and transportation services company for a series of incidents dating back to December 2008 involving several fatalities at the company’s Griggs Road and Port Arthur facilities.
From the OSHA announcement:
Based on the most recent investigation, OSHA has issued 15 willful citations with proposed penalties totaling $1,050,000, alleging that 15 pieces of electrical equipment were unsafe to use in the tank wash area due to the presence of flammable and combustible vapors. Two additional willful citations with proposed penalties totaling $125,000 have been issued. One alleges that CES failed to ventilate tanks in which employees were working, exposing the workers to toxic atmospheric hazards. The other alleges that CES stored flammable and reactive chemicals together, which posed fire and explosion hazards.
In addition, OSHA has issued 54 serious violations with proposed penalties totaling $302,500. These include allegations that CES failed to implement all aspects of the process safety management standard; provide proper respiratory protection, confined space rescue equipment and adequate fall protection; properly install and maintain boiler equipment; implement an emergency response plan, and adequate energy control procedures; train powered industrial truck operators; guard and to anchor machinery adequately; store compressed gas cylinders safely; and label hazardous chemicals.
It’s astonishing to me that a series of incidents occurred within a short time-frame without the company taking the steps to prevent them after the first incident. It strikes me of either willful arrogance towards, or complete ignorance of, OSHA standards. I can see a company makes a mistake that causes an incident that results in a fatality, but I can’t understand how a complete review of safety procedures and standards as well as thorough inspections of all equipment used in their most hazardous areas doesn’t take place after the FIRST event. With all the confined space testing and safety equipment available there really isn’t an excuse for workers not to be protected in a hazardous atmosphere. The cost of implementing a safety procedure plan, as well as providing the correct equipment would be much less than the cost of the lives lost, the families destroyed, the downtime, the fines, and the lawsuits that will follow.
Take note management.