OSHA has issued notices of unsafe and unhealthful working conditions to the U.S. Army Garrison, Directorate of Public Works, in Fort Riley, Kan., for one willful and 18 serious violations.
OSHA's inspection was initiated in March under its Process Safety Management Covered Chemical Facilities National Emphasis Program, which focuses on preventing the release of any substance defined as a highly hazardous chemical.
"Workers at the water treatment plant were routinely exposed to hazards that involved a potentially catastrophic release of chlorine," said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. "It is imperative that this employer take the necessary steps to eliminate hazards from the workplace."
The willful violation addresses hazards associated with the routine use of 5-minute emergency escape breathing apparatus instead of self-contained breathing apparatus or supplied air respirators while operators changed chlorine cylinders. OSHA issues a willful violation when an employer exhibits plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.
The serious violations address hazards associated with process safety management, including a lack of process safety information, inadequate operating procedures, a lack of operator training, a lack of contractor evaluation, inadequate mechanical integrity procedures, a lack of management of change documentation and a lack of compliance audit findings. Additional serious violations include a lack of a medical evaluation for respiratory protection and a lack of an eye/shower station in the chlorine building. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which an employer knew or should have known.
Under Executive Order 12196, federal agencies must comply with the same safety standards as private sector employers covered under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The federal agency equivalent to a private sector citation is the notice of unsafe and unhealthful working conditions, commonly called "the notice." The OSHA notice is used to inform establishment officials of violations of OSHA standards, alternate standards and 29 Code of Federal Regulations-citable program elements. OSHA cannot propose monetary penalties against another federal agency for failure to comply with OSHA standards.