California state regulators recently fined ExxonMobil $566,600 in relation to 19 safety and health violations after the Feb. 18 explosion in Torrance. The explosion was literally felt throughout the city. The number of injured workers totalled four, and the explosion hurled not only debris but also contaminants all over Torrance. Of the 19 violations, all of them except for one were classified as serious enough that the violation could have lead a worker’s death.
At least six of these serious violations were additionally classified as willful as a result of the CAL/OSHA investigation into the incident. CAL/OSHA determined that the company had failed to rectify some of the known safety hazards at the refinery. Also, the investigation concluded that the company had intentionally non-complied with the state’s safety standards.
In fact, one of the flawed units in the refinery that contributed to the blast had not been operating properly for at least nine years before the incident. According to state department officials, the investigation revealed such severe lapses in the safety protocols that some eyebrows have been raised. The unusual amount of serious citations has incited the county District Attorney’s Office to ask for copies of them in case criminal prosecution is deemed necessary.
The refinery had been investigated twice over the course of the last five years in relation to incidents that had resulted in injured workers that had been involved in serious workplace injuries. Although these workers were injured due to apparent negligence — if not intentional misconduct — they all qualify for workers’ compensation benefits to help them recover some of the costs incurred as a result of this incident. Injured workers in California often consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to help them navigate the sometimes complicated process.
Source: dailybreeze.com, “State fines ExxonMobil $566,600 for serious safety violations in wake of Torrance refinery explosion“, Nick Green, Aug. 13, 2015