OSHA cites Texas company following worker fatality from release of hydrogen sulfide (7/9)
"Employees working around hazardous materials must be assured of a safe and healthful environment," said Stephen Boyd, OSHA's area director in Dallas, Texas. "If this employer had developed and implemented safe work practices, as required by OSHA standards, it is possible this tragic incident could have been avoided."
OSHA began its investigation on Jan. 10 following the fatality that occurred when four workers were replacing a faulty valve on the waste heat boiler in the sulfur plant. One employee died and another was left in critical condition when hydrogen sulfide was released from the boiler.
The willful violations were issued for failing to develop and implement safe work practices for workers who process equipment or piping or who are exposed to airborne concentrations of hydrogen sulfide in excess of 50 parts per million, and for failing to provide workers with the required personal protective equipment. In this case, the company did not provide respirators. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.
Alleged serious violations include failing to review current operating procedures; to inform contract workers of the known potential fire, explosion or toxic release hazards related to the contractor's work; and to use flame resistant clothing when breaking lines, valves and/or opening equipment. A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
For these violations, OSHA has assessed penalties totaling $152,100.