OSHA Fines BP $21 Million, Its Largest Penalty Ever

BP Products North America, a division of BP plc (London), agreed to pay $21 million in penalties for safety and health violations following the explosion that killed 15 workers and injured 170 others at its Texas City (Texas) facility. The penalties are part of a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The agreement settles citations issued against BP Products following the fatal explosion at the Texas City refinery caused by a fire in the Isomerization Unit (ISOM) when a cloud of hydrocarbon vapors ignited during the start up of the ISOM. The settlement also addresses other ongoing investigations at the Texas City Refinery and requires BP Products to address process safety management plant-wide. The Texas City refinery is BP's largest oil refinery with thirty process units spread over 1,200 acres and 1,600 permanent employees.

Under terms of the settlement, BP Products agreed to:

  • Pay $21,361,500 in penalties and abate all hazards for which they were cited;
  • Complete a review of the ISOM unit to determine how it can be operated safely and alert OSHA if and when a decision is made to start up the unit in the future;
  • Retain a firm with expertise in process safety management (PSM), including pressure relief systems, safety instrumented systems, human factor analysis and performing process safety audits, to conduct a refinery-wide comprehensive audit and analysis of the company's PSM systems;
  • Hire an expert to assess and report on communication within and between management, supervisors, and authorized employee representatives and non-management employees and the impact of the communication on implementation of safety practices and procedures;
  • Submit to OSHA and BP Products' authorized employee representative, every six months for three years, logs of occupational injuries and illnesses ("OSHA 300 Logs") and all incident reports related to PSM issues;
  • Notify the OSHA area office of any incident or injury at the Texas City facility that results in an employee losing one or more workdays during the same three-year period.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Labor, OSHA (For more details, see the Summary of Citations and Proposed Penalties)

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