Preventing Chemical Plant Explosions
Factory managers and relevant departments must set reasonable management regulations, develop detailed emergency plans, and make a strategic response plans. The effective method should be able to combine the characteristics of the factory and use specific strategies to reduce risks and casualties. The core causes of personnel, equipment, and management that lead to chemical plant explosion accidents can be highly mitigated by spending time, resources, and training. The time goes into studying previous accidents and forecasting where gaps in the plant could lead to a catastrophe. Committing personnel and product resources drives it home.
The Deadly Chemical Leak in La Porte
On July 27, 2021, the LyondellBasell plant near La Porte had an accident that claimed the lives of 2 workers and sent 30 more the hospital. Initially reported as an explosion, the accident occurred when a cap on a pressurized line burst, sending toxic acetic acid vapor into the air. The incident occurred during scheduled maintenance, and both of the deceased workers were contractors. The accident came just weeks after another LyondellBasell plant just 15 miles away had a leak that sent a garlic-like odor over the nearby community. Residents reported feeling nauseated and having headaches from the smell. The LyondellBasell plant in La Porte is the third largest producer of glacial acetic acid, a corrosive substance that can be incredible dangerous if mishandled. Injuries associated with exposure to the substance include skin irritation, burns, and respiratory problems.
Chemical Plant Explosions: Causes & Liability
There is a multitude of factors that contribute to plant explosions; however, generally speaking, human error is responsible for the vast majority of plant explosions. Human error not only accounts for explosions that are immediate but is also the leading factor behind long-term explosion causation. Explosions are often the confluence of multiple events. When poor maintenance mingles with inadequate training and low safety standards, disasters can occur. Plant operators are obligated to ensure safety policies are OSHA-compliant and that each employee is adequately trained in all safety procedures.
However, OSHA reports prove that industrial plant operators can fail to follow protocol.
It takes a great deal of investment to protect a plant from breaking down. Aging, defective equipment must be replaced quickly and frequently. New employees must receive extensive training to protect themselves and coworkers from injury. Safety policies have to be updated to remain compliant with federal standards, requiring upgraded equipment and new personnel. Although vitally important, OSHA does not have the workforce to ensure every plant is running in compliance, so companies are trusted to enforce standards among themselves. Some employers cut corners on safety, risking workers to lower production costs. When profit outweighs security, explosions and disasters are inevitable. In short: lack of accountability combined with the higher cost of safety lead to plant explosions. That is why attorneys are vital to the industry. When we make disasters expensive for companies who caused a blast, we compel other companies to minimize catastrophes and meet OSHA standards.
For example, our chemical plant explosion law firm represented nearly a dozen workers who were harmed by the Williams Olefins plant explosion in Geismar, LA.
The plant had a design flaw that upper management knew to be a potentially-fatal risk. The company ignored it for years in the name of maintaining productivity, choosing to cross their fingers rather than make a simple and inexpensive fix. As a result, the flaw eventually caused an explosion that killed 2 workers and injured 167 more. When we presented our investigation before a jury, they saw what had happened for themselves and awarded our clients more than $30 million in two powerful verdicts.
The Effects of a Chemical Plant Explosion
- First, explosions cause permanent physical injury to workers. Loss of hearing is typical in these accidents, as well as severe head trauma. Burn injuries are a significant factor, leading to high risk of infection, lifelong pain, and potential disfigurement. Depending on the chemical factory, exposure can lead to severe respiratory issues, organ damage, loss of limbs, and other long-term injuries.
- The emotional trauma of these events bears mentioning. Post-traumatic stress disorder can make it difficult for workers to live healthy, secure lives, much less return to a career in the same setting as where their catastrophe took place.
- The health and well-being of the local environment are placed in jeopardy. Explosions affect wildlife, local industry, and the respiratory health of residents within the area. After an explosion, residents are often required to seek shelter indoors.
- Local emergency response services will have to deal with the aftermath. Sudden disasters can reduce the quality of care for patients undergoing other issues on the same day. Even worse, local hospitals may be unprepared for the severity of injuries.
Chemical Plant Explosion Injuries
Chemical plant and refinery explosions can cause a myriad of injuries, including:
Many individuals who survive workplace fires and explosions suffer from long-term repercussions.
What Causes an Explosion?
An explosion is caused by a rapid expansion of gas from a chemical reaction or an incendiary device. Signs of an explosion may be a very loud sound or several noises and vibrations, fire, heat, smoke, falling glass or debris. Explosions result from an ignition source, like a spark, igniting an incendiary material known as the fuel. The combination forms a reaction and when it occurs in a confined space, the pressure has nowhere to escape. Thus, it literally and figuratively, pops open the building or container where it is confined.
What Are the Effects of an Explosion?
Chemicals are toxic and highly flammable, making chemical manufacturing plants extremely dangerous. Common injuries that occur at chemical plants include chemical burns, trips and falls, overexertion, cuts, and scrapes, chemical exposure, and inhalation of chemicals. For individuals, burn injuries are the most severe and painful and can lead to a to high risk of infection, lifelong pain, and potential disfigurement. Depending on the chemical factory, exposure can lead to severe respiratory issues, organ damage, loss of limbs, and other long-term injuries as well. Many people can be injured as they attempt to escape from the explosion. Internal injuries may also not manifest until long after the explosion has occurred. Combined with years of toxic exposure, a single incident with heavy inhalation of carcinogenic chemicals can pose a serious threat to an injured’ s well-being.
Determining If a Chemical Plant Explosion Caused Indirect Injuries
There is no way that a person can mentally prepare for a situational calamity such as a chemical plant explosion. When a workplace explosion occurs, workers will respond in a variety of ways. Some people react soundly, exiting the building in a calm but hurried fashion. Other workers may not be so quiet, and they may run over other workers, push people out of the way, and act unpredictably.
When this happens, other workers can receive injuries due to the panic of their coworkers. If a worker is injured in the panic of an emergency evacuation due to a chemical explosion, the facility can be found responsible for such behavior. This is considered an indirect injury as a result of the explosion. Talking to an experienced chemical plant explosion attorney can be the first step in determining if your indirect wound could result in a case. The hysteria of a co-worker after an explosion is not the only way someone can receive compensation through indirect injuries.
- Falling debris from the explosion
- Falling or tripping while escaping
- Smoke from the blast
- Gases leaked by the explosion
- Fires started by the blast
- Chemicals released into the air
In some situations, these hazards cause more injuries than the chemical explosion itself. However, making the connection between the blast and an indirect wound is vital to winning a personal injury case. The judge will need to see how the explosion was a direct cause of your oblique injury. This is why anyone directly or indirectly injured by a chemical explosion should get in contact with an experienced chemical plant explosion attorney.
What to Do If You Are Injured in a Chemical Blast
First, seek medical attention. Your doctor can establish a plan to assist in your recovery. Unfortunately, explosions are severe accidents, and it is likely that you will not be able to return to work for a long time. After seeking medical treatment, speak with a lawyer to discuss your personal injury claim options. If someone else's carelessness or negligence caused your accident, you might be entitled to financial compensation.
Talk to a plant accident attorney from Arnold & Itkin to learn more about filing a claim after an explosion. To collect compensation for an injury, our firm must establish negligence. In the end, we must demonstrate who was responsible for the explosion and that the explosion directly caused your injuries. It is imperative to establish liability through evidence: expert testimony, exhaustive investigation, and more.
Arnold & Itkin can work to determine who is responsible for your accident so you can collect the money you deserve.
Talk to a Chemical Plant Explosion Attorney Today
At Arnold & Itkin, we go through every step of an incident to prove that a chemical explosion was the cause of an explosion-related wound. If you need to talk to someone about your case, Arnold & Itkin can hear you out and determine if your injury can go to trial. Get in touch with the Houston plant explosion attorneys from our team to request a 100% free and confidential review of your case.
Call (888) 493-1629 to talk to our chemical plant explosion attorneys in a free consultation. We're ready to listen to what happened and start fighting for the answers you need.