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Company continues to place workers at risk

Workers at many industrial sites recognize the danger that exists at their jobsite. They know that if they work in a chemical plant or a petroleum refinery, the danger of fire, explosion and toxic exposure is great. They, however, do not control the overall safety of the process.

That is why there are state and federal safety regulations in these industries. However, enforcement of these regulations, in part, relies on the companies themselves recognizing the danger and actively creating a culture of safety.

The United Steelworkers (USW) this week issued a demand that the Tesoro Corporation put together "a comprehensive, cohesive safety program" at a refinery in California, where an industrial accident this month injured two workers. The plant was not allowed to restart operations by California regulators until they complied with "certain conditions."

The USW noted that the company apparently attempted to "trivialize" the injuries the workers suffered as a means of avoiding an examination by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), a federal agency that investigates industrial accidents involving chemical explosions, fires and toxic releases.

After deadly explosion and fire at a Tesoro refinery in Washington, which resulted in the death of seven workers, the CSB had issued a scathing report regarding lack of a "culture of safety" throughout the company, which contributed to the worker's deaths.

The most recent accident involved workers being pressured to sign "green sheets" under duress and the company failed to make the proper organizational changes in the management of the process when they cut staffing to the control of the alkylation unit at the plan.

The USW release stated that the company is growing as a business, but they continue to reduce staffing and safety positions. It is sad that workers, and potentially those in the surrounding communities are placed at risk for these types of industrial accidents. 

Source: Uswtmc.org, "USW Demands Safety Improvements at Tesoro," February 24, 2014

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