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Great Falls

Aug 8, 2013 12:21 PM by KRTV

Calumet Montana Refining cited for 3 safety violations

GREAT FALLS - Calumet Montana Refining in Great Falls has been cited by the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) for "one willful, one serious and one other-than-serious" safety violations for hazardous conditions found during a February inspection.

In a press release, the OSHA Billings director Jeff Funke said, "The employer modified high-voltage electrical equipment to keep the asphalt mill operating, despite the safety concerns this modification presented to employees. It is unacceptable for an employer to place production above safety and health."

Following an arc explosion at the company's Asphalt Mill on February 11, OSHA inspectors found the switch blocked by an insulating material, keeping the motor circuit protector inoperable and energized.

One willful violation was cited for exposing workers to the arc flash and explosion hazards associated with bypassing a motor circuit protector switch.

OSHA says that a "willful violation" is one committed with intentional, knowing, or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with "plain indifference to worker safety and health."

One serious violation was cited for unused safety signs, symbols and accident prevention tags that are necessary to warn workers about electrical hazards. In addition, one other-than-serious violation was cited for failing to post the voltage, current, wattage and other necessary ratings on electrical switches and panel boards.

The three citations carry a total of $77,000 in proposed fines.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.

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