ISHN

Fire in an oil tank burns two workers

December 3, 2012

OSHAAn employer notified of fire hazards in August of 2011 failed to take corrective action, says OSHA – resulting in injuries to two workers.

The agency has cited Vann Energy Services LLC in Nixon, Texas with 13 safety and health violations – including two willful and three repeat – for exposing workers to flash fires and other hazards. OSHA's Austin Area Office opened an inspection after two workers were injured by a fire that occurred in an oil and gas field tank. Proposed penalties total $246,000.

Inspectors found that the employer had failed to ensure that the air inside the tank was tested for flammable or toxic materials before providing employees with electrical equipment that is capable of causing a potentially flammable environment to ignite.

The repeat violations include failing to provide eye and face protection, communicate chemical hazard information to workers and protect flexible electric cords from damage. OSHA cited the company for similar violations in August 2011.

One of the willful violations involves failing to implement a respiratory protection program that includes an evaluation of respiratory hazards, medical evaluations for workers, fit testing, training, and the proper means to clean and store the respirators. The other violation involves failing to implement a permit-required confined space entry program that includes atmospheric testing, proper written permits, a qualified attendant and rescue plans.

Eight serious violations include failing to ensure that electrical equipment such as a portable lamp is approved for hazardous locations, maintain electrical conductors and cords in a safe operating condition, train workers on the proper use of personal protective equipment, consult workers on confined space entry procedures and maintain fire extinguishers in a proper working condition.

"The employer was notified in August 2011 of possible fire hazards, yet failed to take corrective action and ultimately two workers suffered the consequences," said Casey Perkins, OSHA's area director in Austin. "Failing to implement safety precautions and continuing to put workers' lives at risk is unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Vann_Energy_Services_315631143_11152012.pdf*.