Millions of barrels of oil are processed each day utilizing toxic chemicals, high temperatures, and tremendous pressure. All of these certainly make for dangerous conditions. When proper safety precautions are not being taken by the refineries, the ensuing results can lead to serious injuries, and wrongful death. Oil and gas refinery explosions are hazardous for those working within the facility, outside the facility, and even in neighboring homes and businesses. Explanations for the most common causes of oil and gas refinery explosions have been documented by organizations such as OSHA and explained in more detail below.
Causes of Refinery Explosions
Unfortunately, the responsibility far too often lies on management and their reluctance to invest in the replacement, maintenance, and repair of defective machinery. This was the cause of the 2005 Texas City BP refinery explosion wherein faulty and corroded pipes failed and released a flammable vapor in the air. The refinery explosion resulted in 15 wrongful deaths and over 180 injured refinery workers.
Employers and refinery owners are required by law to regularly inspect and maintain tanks, containers, and other equipment. They are also required to provide safe and up to code containers for flammable liquids and check them for leaks. They have many different safety protocols to prevent oil field and refinery explosions.
Inadequate training of employees regarding safety and their job duties is another factor in oilfield and refinery accidents and explosions. It is the responsibility of the employer that all employees are adequately equipped with necessary safety clothing and equipment so that they may safely carry out their duties. This means that employers should provide their workers with safety training and specific job training and post safety signage throughout the facilities in languages that all employees understand. Providing proper training also applies to on-site contractors working at the refineries.
Failing To Provide Safety Equipment
Not providing safety equipment is another failure by employers that can lead to serious injury or wrongful death of the refinery workers. Personal safety equipment can include PPE for employees, such as a hard hat, eye goggles, gloves, and safeguarding material, equipment, and themselves. Employers are required to install adequate fire warning and suppression systems, along with equipment that alerts in the event of a gas or chemical leak. Due to the sensitive nature of chemicals and compounds in refinery work, they must be stored correctly to reduce fire that could cause a refinery explosion or serious injury.
Misuse of Chemicals
Misuse, dirty, or impure chemicals and materials can have adverse reactions and lead to deadly refinery explosions. Without proper training, workers can misuse natural gas, benzene, or other combustible liquids causing harm or injury to themselves or other refinery workers. Employees rely on quality training and storage to ensure all chemical gases are kept secure, lessening their risk of a refinery accident. If proper training and storage procedures are not followed, the items are at risk of violently interacting with one another causing serious injury or even wrongful deaths of employees who handle or are exposed to the toxic chemicals.
Failing To Conduct Routine Maintenance and Inspection
Failure to conduct routine maintenance and inspection of facilities puts employees in immediate danger of a potential oilfield or refinery explosion. Regardless of the use of PPE, employees have little defense against a malfunctioning equipment or defects in machinery. Employers attempt to save costs by delaying inspections of equipment, machinery, and materials used by employees. The inspection delays can result in unsafe equipment continuing to be used leading to potential refinery injuries.
What Causes a Refinery Explosion
Among the most commonly cited causes of oil and gas refinery explosions includes:
- Careless cigarette smoking
- Improperly repaired or poorly maintained equipment
- Defective or malfunctioning equipment
- Unseen corrosion
- Poor safety procedures
- Use of dirty or impure chemicals
- Inadequate labeling of equipment and chemicals
- Well blowouts
- Unqualified or negligent subcontractors
- Poorly trained workers
In many cases, a small fire that is not contained quickly can lead to a deadly explosion at a refinery or oil field. In the vast majority of cases, refinery explosions are preventable. The refinery explosions often happen because the facility owner has decided that refining as much product as possible and maximizing profits are more important than employee safety. It is natural for a refinery operation to carry some danger, and workers understand this. However, when a company places speed and production quotas above worker safety, the workplace explosion risk increases exponentially.
Common Injuries From Refinery Explosions
Workers near a refinery explosion when it occurs are in extreme danger of severe injury or death. Severe burns, traumatic brain injuries, shockwave injuries, being crushed by flying debris, nerve damage, and even death are all possible after a refinery explosion. A refinery explosion can leave a worker permanently injured or paralyzed. The pain and suffering that workers experience just to do their jobs are unparalleled. They deserve fair compensation for their injuries and should trust their matter to a personal injury attorney experienced in oilfield and refinery explosions.
The causes of plant explosions are usually preventable, which makes explosions all the more tragic. It can be challenging to determine the direct cause. It may often take experts and reconstructionist several months to determine the cause of an oilfield explosion. More often than not, a refinery explosion is caused by a result of numerous factors. When several factors add up, this is the recipe for a catastrophic explosion. Most tragedies rely on more than one failure in the system, and refining oil or gas is no different.
Large companies are notorious for putting profits before safety. Every year, oil companies and refineries are responsible for a significant portion of workplace injuries that result from several different types of oilfield accidents. This does not begin to account for the number of workplace injuries that go unreported.
Corpus Christi Oil Rig Accident and Refinery Accident Attorney
Were you on an oil rig that exploded, or was the rig equipment proven to be defective or faulty? Were you at a poorly maintained refinery or had inadequate safety measures causing you to be injured? Oil field accidents have significant potential to cause catastrophic injury or even wrongful death to those near the site. The Patel Firm PLLC is experienced in handling oilfield accidents and explosions. If you need a lawyer after a refinery explosion or injury, contact a refinery explosion attorney today at The Patel Firm PLLC.
It is crucial to immediately contact an oilfield injury lawyer in Corpus Christi at The Patel Firm PLLC. We hope knowing the most common causes of oil and gas refinery explosions helps you understand the reasons behind the explosions and can help keep you safe in the future. Knowing your options so you can make the best decisions concerning your injury moving forward is important when choosing an oilfield accident attorney. Hiring an experienced refinery accident lawyer at The Patel Firm PLLC gives you peace of mind knowing that your matter is being handled with your best interest in mind. Contact us at The Patel Firm PLLC, where one of our experienced oilfield and refiner accident attorneys is waiting to take your call.