Sunday, March 16, 2008

OSHA Increases Refinery Inspections

OSHA is stepping up their inspections of the oil refineries in the U.S.

Click here for a link to testimony from May, 2007, presented by Richard Fairfax, OSHA's Director of Enforcement Programs.

OSHA is conducting more detailed inspections of oil refineries under their NEP plan, before the end of 2008.

Fairfax stated, "The refinery industry is a major focus for this agency. Last year, OSHA and its state partners conducted 98 inspections in refineries. Comprehensive refinery inspections are complex and lengthy, often taking hundreds and, in some cases thousands, of hours of inspector time for OSHA's multi-member inspection teams to complete."

He added, "When OSHA encounters a company that repeatedly ignores its legal obligations and places workers at risk, the agency employs its Enhanced Enforcement Program (EEP). This program targets employers, such as BP Products, with serious violations related to a worker fatality or multiple, willful or repeated violations of the law. Since the EEP was launched in FY 2004, OSHA has identified 1844 establishments meeting the criteria defined by the EEP. These establishments were targeted for additional enforcement action. For these employers, OSHA schedules enhanced follow-up inspections, negotiates comprehensive settlement provisions to protect the site's workforce and may conduct inspections of other workplaces of the same employer, as well."

Also, "As a result of the Texas City accident (At BP's refinery in 2005), OSHA began evaluating its data on fatalities and catastrophes and determined that refineries experienced more of these problems than the next three industry sectors combined. Accordingly, OSHA is preparing to launch a National Emphasis Program (NEP) for petroleum refineries focusing on the PSM standard. NEPs target establishments or industries based upon hazardous conditions such as employee exposures to trench cave-ins, lead exposure, or hazards of amputations. The NEP will use a new inspection strategy that we believe will yield more effective results than the current approach to enforcing PSM. OSHA's compliance officers will enter each facility with a list of items on which they will focus their attention during the visit. These items will represent the conditions most likely to be significant hazards to workers in the facility. Before the end of 2008, our agency will conduct enforcement inspections at all 81 refineries under federal jurisdiction. In addition, OSHA will encourage its state partners to implement our NEP or create their own emphasis program.After the 81 refinery NEP inspections have been completed, OSHA will continue to address low-probability/high consequence events in refineries and high risk chemical operations."

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