GIBSONTON, FL – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Tampa Electric Co. and Critical Intervention Services, a security services provider, for $43,458 in total proposed penalties, following a release of anhydrous ammonia – a chemical refrigerant – at its Gibsonton facility.
On May 23, 2017, OSHA responded to the incident and determined that the ammonia release occurred when a relief valve activated after a pipeline became over pressurized. As a result, four workers were taken to the hospital for observation and released.
The citations come as Tampa Electric, one of the state’s largest utilities, faces scrutiny over its safety record. OSHA is investigating a June 29 accident at the Big Bend plant that killed five workers and injured a sixth. The agency is expected to issue its findings by the end of December.
OSHA issued Tampa Electric two serious citations for failing to include all the minimum requirements in their emergency response plan and not ensuring employees exposed to hazardous substances wore appropriate respiratory protection. The Agency also issued the power company a Hazard Alert Letter with recommendations to mitigate asphyxiation hazards.
The investigation also led to citations for Critical Intervention Services, which received two serious violations for not developing or implementing a written hazard communication program and failing to provide information and training on hazardous chemicals in the workplace.
“When there is a potentially hazardous chemical exposure, the emergency response plan must include all of the minimum safety and health requirements, including appropriate respiratory protection for employees,” said OSHA Area Director Les Grove, in Tampa.
The Tampa Bay Times has reported that in recent years, more workers have died in Tampa Electric’s power plants than in plants run by any other Florida utility. Tampa Electric has had 10 fatalities since 1997. No other utility has had more than three.