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Refineries now subject to new rules after 2012 workplace injuries

Most California residents who work in the oil and gas industry probably remember the incident at the Chevron refinery back in 2012. After the fire, chemical release and workplace injuries suffered in that disaster, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health began reviewing the need to change the process regarding safety management standards as they apply to the chemical processes of refineries. Recently, those new standards were finalized.

Refineries must now regularly check all equipment and materials for degradation. All safety hazards must be identified, analyzed and ranked according to risk. Thereafter, written safeguards and safety measures must be put into place to account for those hazards with the most dangerous ones to be taken care of first. Any safeguards put into place require review to determine whether they are effective.

The human factors also need addressing at all refineries. The work environment, machine design and operations should reflect the training, capability and needs of the workers. In addition, employers should keep an eye out for workers who are fatigued, untrained or otherwise having an issue complying with safety protocols that could lead to an incident. If an incident does occur, a review needs to be conducted to determine the root cause or causes.

What do these changes have to do with California oil refinery workers? If these measures are put into place properly, it should help reduce the number of workplace injuries -- at least that is the theory. Of course, accidents still happen, and workers' compensation benefits might be needed in order help with expenses such as medical care and lost income, among other benefits depending on the circumstances.

Source: safety.blr.com, "California finalizes PSM rule for petroleum refineries", June 1, 2017

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