In one of the largest penalties ever issued nationally by safety regulators, OSHA last week fined BP Products North America, Inc. more than $2.4 million for unsafe operations at the company's Oregon, Ohio, refinery. An agency inspection identified numerous violations similar to those found during an investigation of last year’s fatal explosion at BP's Texas City, Texas, refinery that killed 15 workers and injured more than 170 others.

OSHA issued 32 per-instance willful citations, with penalties of more than $2.2 million. OSHA cited BP for:
  • locating people in vulnerable buildings among the processing units;
  • failing to correct de-pressurization deficiencies;
  • failing to correct deficiencies with gas monitors; and
  • failing to prevent the use of non-approved electrical equipment in locations in which hazardous concentrations of flammable gases or vapors may exist.
BP was fined an additional $140,000 for two willful violations. The company neglected to develop shutdown procedures and designate responsibilities, and failed to establish a system to promptly address and resolve recommendations made after an incident when a large feed pump failed. Three years later those recommendations had still not been implemented.

In addition, five serious violations resulted in another $35,000 in penalties. These violations included:
  • failing to develop operating procedures for a unit that removes sulfur compound;
  • failing to ensure that operating procedures reflect current operating practice in the Isocracker Unit;
  • failing to resolve process hazard analysis recommendations;
  • failing to resolve process safety management compliance audit items in a timely manner; and
  • failing to periodically inspect pressure piping systems.
The fine is one of the three biggest ever issued in Ohio and among the top 15 or so nationally, according to OSHA’s Toledo area office.

"Our Enhanced Enforcement Program (EEP) exists for companies like this who, despite our enforcement and outreach efforts, ignore their obligations under the law and continually place their employees at risk," said Edwin Foulke, Jr., OSHA assistant secretary.