Last week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a record-breaking $87.43 million in proposed fines against BP Products North America Inc. for “failure to correct potential hazards faced by employees” that contributed to a refinery explosion in 2005 that killed 15 people and injured 170 others. No doubt, this explosion also resulted in several personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against BP for their negligence.
The fine trumps a previous fine of $21 million, also levied against BP in 2005. A press release from OSHA states that BP was issued 270 notices of “failure to abate” per the settlement agreement for the 2005 explosion. BP was also cited for “439 new willful violations for failures to follow industry-accepted controls on the pressure relief safety systems and other process safety management violations.” In the four years BP was given to comply with the settlement, it failed to do so while also failing to maintain safety standards not previously identified. The personal injury and wrongful death lawyers will certainly attempt to use this information in the civil litigation to show that BP was on notice of dangerous safety violations.
OSHA safety violations are no trivial matter, regardless of workplace. As evidenced in this case, violations can lead to permanent injury or death.
Most private businesses in the United States must adhere to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The Act outlines specific rules for the safety and well being of all workers, whether are a refinery, at a construction site or in an office. Employers must provide “a place of employment [that is free] free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.” Such hazards include:
• Vehicles such as forklifts
• Hazardous materials
There are also regulations regarding safety, such as placement of medical and first aid kits, fire extinguishers, proper ventilation and protective devices or coverings for workers as well as tools.
More states, such as Illinois, are also being granted federal approval to administer their own safety and health plan for public employees, such as state and local government workers and public educators. Typically, public workers are exempt, or excluded from OSHA protections.
If you or a loved on has been seriously injured in the workplace, and you suspect safety violations were violated, contact an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer at Passen & Powell today. Call us at (312) 527-4500 for a free consultation.