An Ohio ethanol production facility faces $149,800 in federal penalties after federal inspectors found multiple violations of chemical and grain-handling standards at Three Rivers Energy LLC.
On May 6, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued 42 serious and four other-than serious safety and health violations following three separate inspections at the bio-refinery in November 2015.
“Biofuels like ethanol are a fast-growing part of the energy sector. Its manufacture can involve potentially dangerous chemical reactions.
Workers in biofuel facilities must be properly trained to operate equipment and respond to emergencies,” said Linda Harrington, OSHA’s acting area director in Columbus. “In addition to hazards in the manufacturing process, the storage of corn used in ethanol exposes workers to grain handling hazards like dust ignition and engulfment as workers move corn from storage to the processing area. Employers must protect workers from these hazards during their production processes.”
Inspectors found Three Rivers Energy’s ethanol production violated OSHA’s process safety management regulations including failing to:
- Develop written procedures for safely conducting tasks in the process, and for maintaining the ongoing integrity of equipment.
- Train operators.
- Correct equipment deficiencies.
- Establish an incident investigation team and maintain accurate records.
- Maintain adequate drawings and diagrams of pipes and instruments used in the chemical process.
- Implement an emergency response plan for the plant and train workers in emergency response procedures.
Other violations included failing to:
- Conduct personal protective equipment assessments.
- Develop procedures and implement permit confined space requirements including testing atmospheric conditions and providing emergency and rescue equipment.
- Train workers on grain bin safety and rescue operations.
- Develop a written housekeeping program to remove grain dust and spills from the work area.
- Install safeguards on machinery and live electrical parts.
The company was provided with 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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