Cal/OSHA recently issued citations to ExxonMobil Refining & Supply Company after it discovered the company did not repair faulty equipment at its Torrance refinery for four years, exposing workers to possible serious injury or death.
Cal/OSHA opened an investigation following a hydrofluoric acid leak at the refinery’s alkylation unit on Sept. 6, 2015. Investigators found that the leak was related to a temporary clamp that was installed on a three-inch nozzle flange following an earlier leak in 2011. The nozzle was not replaced until January, 2016.
“This is a case, a minor repair could have prevented workers at this refinery from exposure to a life-threatening acid,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum.
“These citations and penalties are a wake-up call that refineries must follow strict safety protocols to protect their employees.”
The three citations issued include one willful-serious, indicating the employer was aware of the hazardous condition and did not take reasonable steps to address it, and two general citations for ExxonMobil’s failure to conduct a hazard analysis and identify and address the 2011 leak. Proposed penalties total $72,120.
ExxonMobil mitigated the leak caused by the faulty clamp within 48 hours of the release. The company also removed tank 5C-31 from service, where the faulty nozzle was attached, to make repairs. Before ExxonMobil was allowed to restart operations in January, a complete inspection of the alkylation unit was conducted to ensure there were no additional leaking flanges or nozzles.
Cal/OSHA previously issued 19 citations with proposed penalties of $566,600 to ExxonMobil following an explosion on Feb. 18, 2015 that injured four workers. The recent citations are unrelated to that incident.
Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: email@example.com.
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