Texas oil refineries are one of the most dangerous places to work. Employees must work closely with hazardous chemicals, flammable liquids, and heavy machinery. Oil refinery accidents can leave workers seriously injured or killed.
Most refinery accidents could be prevented if employers and owners took proper safety precautions and provided their employees with a safe working environment. Four common causes of oil refinery accidents in Fort Bend County are listed below.
1. Impure or Misused Chemicals
Oil refinery employees are exposed to various reactive chemicals, such as nitrogen. Employees must follow strict safety guidelines when mixing chemicals for production. Chemicals must be stored correctly at the correct temperature and pressure to avoid violent interactions. If chemicals are misused, they can act as a catalyst in causing an explosive reaction.
Chemicals used at oil refineries are cleaned of impurities through various chemical and physical processes. Impure or “dirty” chemicals that are not properly cleaned can contaminate the refining process lead to fires and explosions.
2. Lack of Training
Without proper training, oil refinery workers are unable to carry out their job duties safely. Every worker should receive both safety training and job-specific training. They should have a thorough understanding of the machinery and chemicals they are working with, as well as the dangers and risks associated with the job. There should also be safety signage posted throughout the facility in languages that all the workers understand. For example, it is critical for workers to understand the dangers of using an open flame near flammable materials. Careless cigarette smoking is a common-cited cause of refinery accidents.
Proper training does not only apply to full-time employees. All on-site contractors (that are commonly hired at Texas refineries) must also receive appropriate training.
3. Failure to Conduct Routine Inspection and Maintenance
Corroded, malfunctioning or defective equipment can lead to devastating accidents. Refinery owners, operators, and employers must regularly inspect and maintain their machinery, storage tanks, and other equipment. Even if employees are properly trained, accidents can occur if the equipment is not inspected and maintained. Because of the high cost of maintenance and repairs, some employers and operators are reluctant to perform inspections regularly. But employers cannot put profits over safety. If equipment is not maintained, the workplace is unsafe.
4. Lack of Appropriate Protective Equipment
Because workers routinely interact with heavy equipment and hazardous chemicals, Texas refinery employers must provide employees with appropriate safety and protective equipment. Examples of protective equipment include eye protection, gloves, hard hats, and fire-resistant clothing. In addition to personal protective equipment, employers should ensure that the workplace has safeguarding equipment, functioning fire suppression systems, and alert systems for gas or chemical leaks.
Almost always, there is more than one single cause of an oil refinery accident. Often, several factors combine to lead to a fire or explosion. For example, the 2005 Texas City Refinery explosion, which killed 15 workers and injured 180 others, was caused in part because of a lack of safety checks and procedures, improperly maintained equipment, poor training, and a lack of appropriate protective equipment. It is critical to work with an experienced attorney who will thoroughly investigate all potential causes of an accident.
What Should I Do If I Was Injured in a Texas Oil Refinery Accident?
When an oil refinery accident occurs, the resulting injuries can be devastating. The first step you should always take is to receive proper medical care. Common injuries resulting from oil refinery accidents include severe burns and lacerations, amputations, fractured limbs, disfigurement, toxic chemical exposure, internal organ damage, and even death. The recovery and treatment for these injuries can be lengthy and expensive. Many injured workers are forced to miss work, and some permanently disabled or paralyzed workers may be prevented from ever working again.
After receiving immediate medical attention, you should contact a Fort Bend oil refinery accident attorney. Injured workers have legal rights and may be entitled to compensation. Compensation that may be available to you includes medical expenses, lost wages, disability, and pain and suffering, among others. It is critical to work with an attorney to ensure that you receive the compensation you are entitled to.
Your Fort Bend Oil Refinery Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one were injured in an oil refinery accident, you should reach out to a qualified Sugar Land attorney as soon as possible. Adam Capetillo is a Fort Bend County native who will evaluate your case and provide the best possible representation. Call Capetillo Law Firm today for a free consultation.