arc flashCalumet Montana Refining modified high-voltage electrical equipment to keep its asphalt mill operating, “despite the safety concerns this modification presented to employees," said Jeff Funke, OSHA’s area director in Billings. "It is unacceptable for an employer to place production above safety and health."

An arc explosion at the company’s Asphalt Mill on Feb. 11 prompted a visit by OSHA inspectors, who issued three citations for hazardous conditions found during a February inspection.

One willful violation was cited for exposing workers to the arc flash and explosion hazards associated with bypassing a motor circuit protector switch. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Other citations were for unused safety signs, symbols and accident prevention tags that are necessary to warn workers about electrical hazards and for failing to post the voltage, current, wattage and other necessary ratings on electrical switches and panel boards.

The three citations carry a total of $77,000 in proposed fines. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.