Helium Enrichment Unit Failed to Follow Safe Chemical Handling Procedures

Helium Enrichment Unit Failed to Follow Safe Chemical Handling Procedures

OSHA found that the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management violated procedures for safe handling of chemical materials at its Cliffside Helium Enrichment Unit, a federal chemical producing plant that refines and sells helium products to private entities.

These findings resulted in 21 notices of unsafe working conditions. This is OSHA’s first use of the egregious violation policy in citing unsafe working conditions at a federal facility. The violations of process safety management procedures would carry a private sector penalty of over $1 million.

“OSHA found the Bureau of Land Management’s Cliffside Helium Enrichment Unit willfully and repeatedly failed to take required safety measures to ensure the facility’s compliance with federal safety and health procedures and project employees from chemical production hazards. Federal employers, just like private sector employees, are responsible for knowing what hazards exist in their facilities and taking appropriate precautions to keep workers safe.”

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Douglas Parker

Six willful safety violations including failing to train workers to understand the purpose and functions of the energy control program, and five egregious willful violations are for failing to perform inspections and tests on process equipment. OSHA cited serious violations for process safety management failures, and other-than-serious safety violations involved notification and records violations.

As required by the OSHA Act, federal agencies must comply with the same safety standards