Oct. 30, 2009
Contact: Diana Petterson Elizabeth Todd
Phone: 202-693-1898 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 202-693-1898 end_of_the_skype_highlighting 972-850-4710 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 972-850-4710 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
US Department of Labors OSHA issues record-breaking fines to BP
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Labor's
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today announced it
is issuing $87,430,000 in proposed penalties to BP Products North
America Inc. for the company's failure to correct potential hazards
faced by employees. The fine is the largest in OSHA's history. The
prior largest total penalty, $21 million, was issued in 2005, also
Safety violations at BP's Texas City, Texas, refinery resulted in a
massive explosion — with 15 deaths and 170 people injured – in March of
2005. BP entered into a settlement agreement with OSHA in September of
that year, under which the company agreed to corrective actions to
eliminate potential hazards similar to those that caused the 2005
tragedy. Today's announcement comes at the conclusion of a six-month
inspection by OSHA, designed to evaluate the extent to which BP has
complied with its obligations under the 2005 agreement and OSHA
"When BP signed the OSHA settlement from the March 2005 explosion, it
agreed to take comprehensive action to protect employees. Instead of
living up to that commitment, BP has allowed hundreds of potential
hazards to continue unabated," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.
"Fifteen people lost their lives as a result of the 2005 tragedy, and
170 others were injured. An $87 million fine won't restore those lives,
but we can't let this happen again. Workplace safety is more than a
slogan. It's the law. The U.S. Department of Labor will not tolerate
the preventable exposure of workers to hazardous conditions."
For noncompliance with the terms of the settlement agreement, the BP
Texas City Refinery has been issued 270 "notifications of failure to
abate" with fines totaling $56.7 million. Each notification represents
a penalty of $7,000 times 30 days, the period that the conditions have
remained unabated. OSHA also identified 439 new willful violations for
failures to follow industry-accepted controls on the pressure relief
safety systems and other process safety management violations with
penalties totaling $30.7 million.
"BP was given four years to correct the safety issues identified
pursuant to the settlement agreement, yet OSHA has found hundreds of
violations of the agreement and hundreds of new violations. BP still
has a great deal of work to do to assure the safety and health of the
employees who work at this refinery," said acting Assistant Secretary
of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab.
The BP Texas City Refinery is the third largest refinery in the United
States with a refining capacity of 475,000 barrels of crude per day. It
is located on a 1,200-acre facility in Texas City, southeast of Houston
in Galveston County.
A willful violation exists where an employer has knowledge of a
violation and demonstrates either an intentional disregard for the
requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970,
or shows plain indifference to employee safety and health. A penalty of
up to $70,000 may be assessed for each willful violation.
A notification of failure to abate can be issued if an employer fails
to correct a cited condition and the citation is a final order of the
Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. A penalty of up to
$7,000 may be assessed for each day that the violation remains
Under the OSH Act, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working
conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing
standards, and providing training, outreach and education. For more
information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov.
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or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing
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information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more
information, please visit http://www.dol.gov/compliance.