OSHA fines Hess refinery for safety violations

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OSHA has cited Hess Corporation, that operates an oil refinery in Port Reading, N.J., for workplace safety and health violations, proposing fines totaling $141,500. The agency initiated the investigation as part of its National Emphasis Program focused on petroleum refinery process safety management.  The company has been issued 31 serious violations and one other-than-serious violation, reports OSHA on its website here.

“OSHA’s process safety management regulations are designed to reduce or eliminate workplace hazards associated with the catastrophic release of highly hazardous chemicals,” said Patricia Jones, director of OSHA’s area office in Avenel, N.J. “If not corrected, these violations could compromise the safety and health of Hess employees.”

The  company’s failure to properly document process safety information, conduct a proper process hazard analysis, evaluate contractor safety and health programs, properly train employees, conduct maintenance on critical instruments, update operating procedures, regularly conduct incident investigations, resolve incident investigation findings in a timely manner, properly install metal stairs, maintain ladders in a safe condition, support piping systems, and protect against physical damage and excessive stresses resulted in the fines.

This shows that OSHA is taking its role as a regulator seriously enough, however the fines seem puny in comparison to the extent of the company’s operations. This should not set a new trend that allows companies to get away with fines instead of spending money on actual safety measures. The fines should be stringent enough so that companies will from the outset take safety more seriously.