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Citations in fatal oil refinery accident vacated

Posted On: Jul. 6, 2018 11:55 AM CST

Citations in fatal oil refinery accident vacated

An administrative law judge of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission vacated citations issued against a construction employer in a fatal worksite incident.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated and issued a five-item citation and proposed penalties of $62,355 to La Porte, Texas-based industrial engineering firm AltairStrickland L.L.C. following a May 2016 accident in which an AltairStrickland employee was struck by a pipe and killed at an ExxonMobil oil refinery in Beaumont, Texas, according to the ruling in Secretary of Labor v. AltairStrickland L.L.C. published on Friday.

The administrative law judge hearing the case rejected the Secretary of Labor’s allegation that the company violated OSHA’s safety training and education standard after determining that the secretary could not establish that the company failed to instruct the crew members in the applicable regulations because no regulation exists addressing bull rigging, as opposed to rigging, according to the ruling. The secretary had conceded that AltairStrickland provided safety training relating to cranes, rigging and signaling to its employees, including viewing a PowerPoint presentation on crane rigging safety.

“It is the secretary’s burden to establish AltairStrickland failed to instruct each of the crew members in the recognition and avoidance of struck by hazards and the applicable OSHA regulations,” the administrative law judge said. “The secretary presented no evidence AltairStrickland failed to caution the crew members about struck by hazards.

“AltairStrickland was under no obligation to provide special instructions to its employees regarding bull rigging,” the law judge stated.

The secretary also failed to establish, among other things, that the work was not being performed by a qualified rigger, the law judge said in vacating all the disputed citation items and proposed penalties.

The administrative law judge’s decision became a final order of the commission on Thursday.

An attorney for AltairStrickland was unable to comment.