BILLINGS, Mont. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited a Montana refinery for one willful, one serious and one other-than-serious safety violation for hazardous conditions found during an OSHA February inspection.
"The employer modified high-voltage electrical equipment to keep the asphalt mill operating, despite the safety concerns this modification presented to employees," said Jeff Funke, the agency's area director in Billings. "It is unacceptable for an employer to place production above safety and health."
An arc explosion occurred at the company's asphalt mill on Feb. 11, 2013. 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.
One serious violation was cited for unused safety signs, symbols and accident prevention tags that are necessary to warn workers about electrical hazards. In addition, one other-than-serious violation was cited 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.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.