EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

OCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH
APPEALS BOARD

Summary of UCI CONSTRUCTION, INC.  -  DAR


Employees were attempting to remove the top of a valve on a line that carried hot oil under pressure so the valve could be reconditioned. The upstream and downstream valves were closed. Some oil leaked out when the pressure relief device on the valve was opened, so suction was applied to remove the remaining oil and pressure. The pressure relief device was not opened again after the suction. Employees removed the bolts securing the top to the valve casing but the top would not come off. An employee began trying to pry the top off and "it burst" spraying hot oil 30 feet and burning 5 employees. Employer was cited under section 6535(a) of the Petroleum Safety Orders for opening the valve ["line or equipment"] before reducing the pressure "to atmospheric or as near atmospheric as is practicable." The fact that oil sprayed 30 feet proved that the pressure had not been reduced to atmospheric. Employer's failure to recheck for evidence of pressure in the valve and line after the suction and ignoring the unusual sticking of the valve top as a trouble sign showed Employer failed to reduce pressure to as near atmospheric as practicable. Reliance on the assurance of ARCO employees who owned the line and did the suction, etc., that the pressure had been relieved is not a defense. A general violation was upheld.

UCI CONSTRUCTION, INC.  -  96-R4D3-615
December 28, 1999