The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Sunoco Inc. for workplace safety and health violations, proposing $305,000 in fines. The Westville, N.J., oil refinery has 472 employees.

OSHA initiated its investigation as part of its National Emphasis Program focused on petroleum refinery process safety management. As a result of the investigation, the company was issued citations for 25 serious violations, with a penalty of $105,000, and nine repeat violations, with a penalty of $200,000.

"Sunoco Inc.'s failure to correct these hazards leaves its employees at risk of serious injury and possible death," says Gary Roskoski, area director for OSHA's Marlton Area Office. "The company can ensure future abatement of all serious hazards, as well as compliance with OSHA regulations, by establishing an effective safety and health management system."

The repeat violations are due to the company's inadequate process safety management procedures; failure to determine the presence, location and quantity of asbestos-containing materials at the worksite; and failure to affix labels to all products containing asbestos. OSHA issues repeat violations when it finds a substantially similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order.

The serious violations include dangerous floor conditions; ladder hazards; defective overhead piping systems; the company's failure to obtain and evaluate the safety and health programs of potential contractors; failure to inform contract employers of known potential fire, explosion or toxic release hazards related to the contractor's work; failure to develop and implement safe practices to control the entrance, presence and exit of contractors and contract employees in covered process areas; failure to develop and implement written procedures to maintain integrity of process equipment; failure to perform inspections and tests on all process equipment to maintain its mechanical integrity; failure to correct mechanical deficiencies in equipment before use or in a safe and timely manner; and failure to investigate incidents that could result in a catastrophic release of highly hazardous chemicals. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Sunoco Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.