Proposed penalties of $165,900
Following the deaths of two workers in separate incidents at the company’s Pascagoula facilities, OSHA cited Mississippi Phosphates Corp. with forty (40) safety and health violations. The fatalities led to comprehensive inspections by OSHA.
On May 22nd, an operator attempting to start up a steam turbine in sulfuric acid plant No.2 was struck by flying metal debris when the turbine housing ruptured due to apparent over-pressurization. In a similar incident a week later, an operator restarting a tripped steam turbine in sulfuric acid plant No. 3 also was killed by flying metal debris when the turbine housing ruptured due to over-pressurization.
OSHA has cited the company for three serious safety violations related to the fatalities, including exposing workers to struck-by hazards by not protecting them against over-pressurization, and failing to maintain and service equipment in accordance with the company’s maintenance program to prevent over-pressurization.
An additional twenty-three serious safety violations involve failing to test and inspect pressure relief devices throughout the facility, provide handrails on fixed stairways, guard floor holes that could cause workers to trip and fall, provide fixed stairs to access tank gauging, address engineering controls during a process hazard analysis, and guard belt roller nip points, horizontal shafts, rotating shafts and horizontal V-belts. The violations also include various electrical hazards such as exposing workers to shocks, missing panel knockouts, broken face plates, unguarded light bulbs and an open ground in an outlet circuit.
Ten serious health violations involve failing to conduct an initial process hazard analysis, update the process hazard analysis every five years, conduct compliance audits for process safety management and determine the presence of asbestos prior to working on equipment, as well as to label hazardous substances such as caustic soda, acid and petroleum products that are used throughout the facility.
One repeat health violation was cited for a lack of housekeeping. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. A similar violation was cited in May 2009.
Three other-than-serious safety violations are failing to mount a fire extinguisher so it is readily available, not labeling circuit breakers, and using flexible cords and equipment cables that do not have strain relief.
“Employers need to be proactive to ensure that all operating equipment is properly maintained and functional,” said Clyde Payne, director of OSHA’s Jackson Area Office. “Had this employer done so, these tragic events could have been prevented.”
Mississippi Phosphates is a producer and marketer of diammonium phosphate, which is used as a fertilizer. The company’s manufacturing facilities consist of two sulfuric acid plants, a phosphoric acid plant and diammonium phosphate granulation plant.
The citations for the serious and repeat violations carry total proposed penalties of $165,900. The citations for the other-than-serious violations do not carry monetary penalties. All citations can be viewed at