The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing $357,750 in penalties for three willful and 58 serious safety violations found at Hunt Refining Company's Sandersville, Miss., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., oil refineries.

OSHA is proposing $216,900 in penalties for two willful and 35 serious safety citations at the Sandersville plant. The willful citations were issued for management's failure to recognize and evaluate fire and explosion hazards from electrical equipment in the process area and failure to address hazards to employees situated in a control room in close proximity to process equipment. Serious safety issues include numerous violations of process safety management standards, lack of safety training for employees, and employee exposure to electrical and fall hazards.

"It is inexcusable for employees to be situated next to the process operation and have them use equipment that could serve as an ignition source for an explosion," said Clyde Payne, director of OSHA's Jackson Area Office.

The Tuscaloosa facility received one willful and 23 serious safety citations with penalties totaling $140,850. The willful violation addresses hazards associated with Hunt Refining Co.'s failure to inspect and test process vessels, which could lead to equipment being unable to contain hazardous chemicals. Serious violations include excessive dust accumulation, employee exposure to electrical hazards and 16 violations of process safety management standards.

"By not performing needed tests, management is gambling with employees' safety by operating equipment that may fail and result in a fire or explosion," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's area director in Birmingham, Ala. Hunt Refining Company has 15 business days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.