Oil Refinery Faces OSHA Investigation Over Injury Reporting

April 16, 2015
Sacks & Zolonz, LLP
Workers’ Compensation Counseling

A business is required to keep accurate records of workplace injuries. Failure to do so can result in safety violations and citations from regulating agencies in California. One oil refinery in another state may be facing this challenge with regard to a pending OSHA investigation.

The employer, Marathon Petroleum Corp, had purchased a large refinery from PB Plc and is now facing scrutiny from workers, union representatives, and OSHA over concerns regarding Marathon’s reporting practices for workplace injuries and accidents. A complaint filed with the Labor Department accuses the company of misrepresenting workplace illnesses and injuries in its records. Some workers have said that the complaint is connected to broader concerns regarding Marathon possibly rolling back voluntary safety practices that had been implemented by BP.

Union representatives and workers claim that since Marathon began operating the refinery, laborers who were injured were taken to on-site doctors and were then treated with ice packs and Ibuprofen. The company then administered drug screening tests on injured workers and sent them home. However, the company may have erred when it reported the workers as waiting to obtain drug test results before allowing the laborers back to work. This issue is that this time period does not count as time lost from work due to an injury.

The company denies any wrongdoing and claims that its reporting policies are in compliance with OSHA regulations. An OSHA investigation is a common occurrence in the oil refinery industry, in California and elsewhere. Simply being investigated does not mean that regulators believe there have been any violations. Nevertheless, Marathon must address these issues and will likely rely upon experienced employer defense counsel to protect its interests and seek a favorable result.

Source: businessinsider.com, “Exclusive: Safety concerns rise at big Texas refinery a decade after disaster”, Erwin Seba, April 6, 2015

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