A BP oil refinery in Ohio was investigated for failing to safely handle hazardous materials, resulting in the fatal burns of two employees. As the workers attempted to correct rising liquid levels in the fuel gas mix drum, a flammable vapor cloud formed, ignited and then triggered an explosion in September 2022, causing the deadly burns.
OSHA identified the training deficiencies and failure by BP Products North America to meet OSHA's process safety management procedures. They also determined naphtha, a flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixture, was released when flow control valves were opened in an attempt to regulate an overfill occurring in upstream process equipment. The opened valve allowed the flammable liquid to enter the refinery's fuel gas system.
OSHA cited BP Products for failing to implement shutdown procedures for the equipment when requested by the operators responding to the naphtha release and for not clearly defining conditions for emergency shutdown of the crude tower.
OSHA proposed $156,250 in penalties, an amount set by federal statutes, and cited the company for 10 serious violations, and one other-than-serious violation of process safety management procedures. Specifically, the agency found BP Products failed to:
- Train operators to identify the presence of naphtha during an upset condition.
- Develop and implement safe work practices for responding to upset conditions.
- Document design for pressure safety valves, including for an overpressure scenario.
- Address hazards of overfilling process vessels, and safeguards needed to protect against an overfill.
- Evaluate for engineering or administrative controls for draining process equipment during upset conditions.
- Address human factors with the operation of the inside control board screen loading delays.
- Ensure process hazard assessments were accurate with respect to level indicator safeguards.