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The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Thursday that it has cited four Denver-based employers for exposing employees to health and safety hazards at an oil and gas tank battery construction project, with $70,711 in proposed penalties.
OSHA has cited Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Energes Services L.L.C., Dominguez Welding L.L.C. and Unlimited Services L.L.C. Last May, one employee was killed in an explosion and fire and three others suffered third-degree burns after the employees were merging two tank batteries into a single tank battery operated by Anadarko Petroleum. OSHA inspectors found that “flammable vapors or gases ignited as employees worked near pipes connected to a crude oil tank,” the agency said in a statement.
The companies were cited for introducing potential ignition sources into work areas containing flammable gases or vapors; not isolating flammable gases or vapors from welding activity; and not adequately inspecting the worksite and addressing safety hazards including an excavation, according to the statement.
“Oil and gas industry employers must take proper precautions for hot work in the presence of flammable hydrocarbon vapors,” Herb Gibson, Denver-based OSHA area director, said in a statement. “OSHA and the industry have issued guidance for employers on the hazards of flammable materials and appropriate protective measures.”
“We appreciate OSHA’s comprehensive review of this tragic accident, and we take the findings very seriously,” an Anadarko spokeswoman said in an email. “Since the accident, we have been reviewing our processes and procedures as part our commitment for continual improvement around safety and will continue to work with OSHA on any additional steps it may recommend.”
Representatives from Energes Services, Dominguez Welding, and Unlimited Services could not be immediately reached for comment.
A chemical plant in Charleston, Tennessee, that had explosions Thursday and Aug. 30 had been fined nearly $10,000 for workplace safety violations in 2016, according to the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration.