An Ohio ethanol production facility faces $149,800 in federal penalties after OSHA inspectors found multiple violations of chemical and grain-handling standards during three separate inspections.

The agency issued 42 serious and four other-than serious safety and health violations at Three Rivers Energy LLC, abio-refinery that processes about 16 million bushels of corn annually and has an annual production of more than 46 million gallons of ethanol.

“Biofuels like ethanol are a fast-growing part of the energy sector,” said Linda Harrington, OSHA’s acting area director in Columbus. “Its manufacture can involve potentially dangerous chemical reactions. 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.”

Among the process safety management violations found at the facility, the company failed 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.