The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued notices of one willful and 18 serious violations of OSHA standards to the U.S. Army Garrison in Fort Riley, KS.
The notices—the equivalent of private-sector citations—allege multiple health and safety violations in working conditions at Fort Riley’s water treatment plant.
"Workers at the water treatment plant were routinely exposed to hazards that involved a potentially catastrophic release of chlorine," said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, MO
"It is imperative that this employer take the necessary steps to eliminate hazards from the workplace."
Federal agencies must comply with the same safety standards as private-sector employers covered under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. However, OSHA is not allowed to propose monetary penalties against another federal agency for violation of those standards.
The OSHA notice is used to inform establishment officials of violations of OSHA standards, alternate standards, and 29 Code of Federal Regulations-citable program elements.
The willful violation addresses hazards associated with the routine use of five-minute emergency escape breathing apparatus, instead of self-contained breathing apparatus or supplied-air respirators, while operators changed chlorine cylinders. OSHA issues a willful violation when an employer exhibits plain indifference to, or intentional disregard for, employee safety and health.
The serious violations address hazards associated with process safety management, including:
• Lack of process safety information;
• Inadequate operating procedures;
• Lack of operator training;
• Lack of contractor evaluation;
• Inadequate mechanical integrity procedures;
• Lack of management of change documentation; and
• Lack of compliance audit findings.
Additional serious violations include the lack of a medical evaluation for respiratory protection and the lack of an eye/shower station in the chlorine building. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which an employer knew, or should have known.
OSHA's inspection was initiated in March under the agency’s Process Safety Management Covered Chemical Facilities National Emphasis Program, which focuses on preventing the release of any substance defined as a highly hazardous chemical.
The U.S. Army Garrison has 15 days to comply with the notice, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Wichita, or request a hearing with the regional administrator in Kansas City, MO.