Being that Texas is on the Gulf Coast and one of the key states involved with the current oil and gas boom, our state is the home of some of the largest refineries and chemical plants in the world. As Texans, most of us understand that every single day, workers at chemical plants are faced with risks inherent in working with volatile industrial chemicals.
Despite the level of inherent danger, however, workers at chemical plants should not have to worry about whether or not they will come home on any given day and they should also not have to expect to be seriously injured on the job. While some chemical plant accidents are inevitable, most are preventable and the result of negligence or carelessness on the part of employers or others.
The sad fact is, the quest for ever-higher profits causes some companies to look the other way when it comes to assessing hazards and keeping workers safe. As a result of this disconnection, accidents like chemical spills, explosions, and other potentially disastrous workplace accidents take place far too often. Most are the result of human error, and a great many of them happen because there are insufficient measures in place to prevent them.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the most common causes of chemical plant accidents include the following:
- A lack of sufficient processes and policies to keep workers safe
- Failure to properly train workers
- Failure to follow regulations and maintain proper safety procedures
- Warnings about problems that are ignored or not properly addressed by management
- Inappropriate, poorly-designed and aging equipment
- Equipment that is not properly maintained in optimum condition
- Manufacturing defects
According to OSHA, toxic, reactive, and flammable chemicals can lead to terrible accidents and catastrophic injuries when they are released, so the agency has developed specific safety guidelines for chemical use that employers and workers are required to follow to keep everyone safe. Knowledge of these regulations also helps workers by making them feel as if their employer values them enough to want to keep them safe.
That is why OSHA says thorough training is the single most effective way to keep chemical workers safe. Ignorance is the number one cause of accidents that lead to injury or death, which is why employers are required to properly train workers. And when they fail to do so, they can be found liable for injuries and deaths caused by accidents.
Employers must also be aware of the long-term effects of chemical exposure, which can lead to enormous health problems down the road. For example, two of the most common chemicals in industrial chemical plants are hydrogen sulfide and benzene. Exposure to hydrogen sulfide can lead to memory problems, asthma, and chronic headaches, while benzene exposure can lead workers to experience dizziness, which can lead to serious accident, while exposure over a longer period can lead to convulsions, and workers exposed to high levels over a really long time can end up with cancer, like leukemia.
In addition to limiting immediate risks and hazards to the extent possible at chemical plants, employers are also required by law to limit workers’ exposure to chemicals under any and all circumstances. There are strict exposure limits for all hazardous chemicals that all employers are required to adhere to.
Chemical Plant Accident Attorneys
When workers suffer injuries from a chemical accident, they need to immediately speak with experienced chemical accident attorneys. An attorney will be able to conduct a complete investigation into all of the relevant circumstances and parties and get you the compensation you need. If you or someone you love has been injured or become sick from working at a chemical plant, please call Adame Garza LLP today.