Chemical Plant Accident Attorneys
Our Houston Lawyers Represent Clients in Texas, Louisiana & Nationwide
Arnold & Itkin LLP has represented countless workers put in harm's way by large companies that care more about turning a profit than protecting employees. Our case history includes catastrophic events such as the 2005 Texas City explosion and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, among many others. With hundreds of clients, many of whom became our friends over the course of their cases, we understand the pain and costs of a serious injury.
After a chemical plant accident, our role is to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve on all fronts: for medical costs, ongoing care, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Were You Injured in a Chemical Plant Accident?
Employees of chemical plants are placed in danger on a daily basis. While there are inherent risks of working with volatile chemicals in this industry, it does not mean that serious injuries should be expected or discounted; in fact, an alarming number of accidents occur from preventable causes—such as negligent or merely careless behavior.
If you were injured or if someone you love was killed in a chemical plant accident, the time to act is now.
At Arnold & Itkin, we bring a wealth of experience to the table with industrial disasters such as chemical plant accidents. We have recovered billions of dollars in verdicts and settlements since opening our doors, and we have been proud to help countless clients get the money that they need during their recovery period. If you would like to talk to a chemical plant accident lawyer about your situation, contact us today.
Examples of Catastrophic Chemical Plant Accidents
Unfortunately, serious chemical plant accidents occur far too frequently. For example, on April 2, 2019 in Crosby, Texas just outside of Houston, disaster struck when a KMCO chemical plant exploded. According to reports, a transfer line ignited a tank holding flammable chemicals inside of the plant, causing an explosion and subsequent fire. In the aftermath, a nearby roadway was shutdown. At least one individual lost their life in the incident and two were severely injured. It took more than five hours to fully contain the fire.
That same year saw a string of industrial disasters in the nation. In July, an explosion and subsequent fire ripped through an ExxonMobil facility in Baytown, TX. Nearly 40 people were hurt in the incident, most with burn-related injuries. Then, in November, an explosion occurred at a Port Neches plant owned by petrochemical company TPC Group. Three people were in the blast that shattered the windows and damaged the doors of nearby homes.
5 of History's Worst Industrial Disasters
- Bhopal Disaster (December 2, 1984) — 558,125 injuries & 3,787 deaths
- Oppau Explosion (September 21, 1921) — 2,000 injuries & 500+ deaths
- Phillips Disaster (October 23, 1989) — 314 injuries & 23 deaths
- Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster (March 11, 2011) — 37 physical injuries & 2 radiation burns
- Chernobyl Disaster (April 26, 1986) — Injuries still being accounted for & 31 direct deaths
What Are Common Causes of Chemical Plant Accidents?
In many cases, the causes of chemical plant accidents can be broken down into two categories: natural causes and human error. An example of the first would be the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, where an earthquake triggered a tsunami that hit the power plant—causing three nuclear reactors to meltdown. This, however, is rare. In fact, it is sadly more common to see chemical plant accidents attributed to some form of human errors. To take the Bhopal disaster as an example, it is argued by both the Indian government, as well as activists, that the accident was caused both by both lax management and deferred maintenance.
Per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, common causes of plant accidents include:
- Inadequate hazard review or process hazards analysis
- Inappropriate and/or poorly-designed equipment
- Inadequate indications of process condition
- Warnings about potential problems that were ignored
Examples of Chemical Hazards at Plants
According to OSHA, the safety hazards at chemical plants are those common to other industrial facilities. These will be present in most workplaces at one time or another. They include unsafe conditions that can cause injury, illness, and death.
Common safety hazards at chemical plants include:
- Spills on floors or tripping hazards, such as blocked aisles or cords running across the floor
- Working from heights, including ladders, scaffolds, roofs, or any raised work area
- Unguarded machinery and moving parts that a worker can accidentally touch
- Electrical hazards like frayed cords, missing ground pins, or improper wiring
- Working in confined spaces
- Machinery-related hazards (lockout/tagout, boiler safety, forklifts, etc.)
More germane to chemical facilities are chemical and biological hazards. Chemical hazards are present when a worker is exposed to any chemical preparation in the workplace in any form (solid, liquid, or gas). Some are safer than others, but to workers who are more sensitive to chemicals, even common solutions can cause illness, skin irritation, or breathing problems. In every plant, employees are exposed to potentially harmful substances.
Types of things chemical plant workers may be exposed to include:
- Cleaning products, paints, acids, solvents
- Vapors/fumes from welding or solvents
- Gases: acetylene, propane, helium, etc.
- Flammable materials like gasoline
- Explosive or corrosive chemicals
- Blood and other body fluids
- Bacteria and viruses
- Insect bites
- Animal and bird droppings
Physical hazards specific to chemical manufacturing are present with no proximate exposure. Some factors within the chemical/radioactive environment that can harm the body without necessarily touching it.
- Radiation, including ionizing, nonionizing (EMF’s, microwaves, radio waves, and so on)
- High exposure to sunlight/ultraviolet rays
- Exposure to extreme temperatures, hot or cold
- Constant loud noise
Chemical Plant Electrocution & Burn Injury Claims
Two common injuries sustained in chemical plant accidents are electrocutions and burns. Electrical equipment or chemicals can cause burn injuries. Whether it is on the skin, in the eyes, or internally, chemical burns lead to severe tissue damage. It is not necessary for a chemical to be on fire or extremely hot to cause a burn—chemical burns often result from a substance’s pH level (acidity or alkalinity), not its temperature.
Ingesting harmful chemicals also leads to severe internal organ injury. Symptoms include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Low blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Muscle twitches
These burns may not be noticeable at first, so it is crucial to immediately rinse the affected area with water for at least 15 minutes. If you accidentally ingested dangerous chemicals, seek medical attention immediately.
Numerous factors can cause electrocution at a chemical plant, including:
- Faulty wiring
- Malfunctioning equipment
- Aging outlets or cables
- Unsafe electrical design
Chemical Plant Owner & Operator Obligations
Those who work at chemical plants are putting themselves at risk on a daily basis. The nature of the job is inherently dangerous, which makes it necessary for employers to have robust safety protocols familiar to every worker. An employer’s obligation includes training employees on how to avoid accidents and ensure safe production. It is important to remember that employers may be liable for injuries caused by another employee’s negligence. Employers are responsible for ensuring their workers are fit to work.
Chemical plant owners and operators are also responsible for the state of their plants.
While workplace conditions will always be dangerous in an industrial facility, there are ways to maximize the safety of employees (often through frequent maintenance or updated equipment). However, many employers reduce costs and cut corners by limiting much-needed updates, maintenance, and renovations--resulting in devastating and catastrophic accidents. While workers are usually aware of unsafe conditions, it often doesn’t change until someone files a formal complaint or the employer is held accountable in court. That’s where our firm can help.
The Westlake Chemical Plant Accident Near Sulphur, Louisiana
An explosion at Westlake Chemical’s Petro Complex 2 Unit in Sulphur, Louisiana injured at least 5 people on September 27, 2021. Used in the production of ethylene, a highly flammable chemical, the Petro Complex 2 Unit was undergoing maintenance at the time of the explosion. While the fire was put out by the next morning, the cause of the incident is still under investigation. At least one of the workers sustained severe burns over half their body. Residents throughout the area reported feeling and hearing the explosion, shaking homes from Lake Charles to Hammond and Lafayette.
The LyondellBasell Chemical Plant Accident Near La Porte, Texas
A pressurized pipe burst on July 27, 2021 as workers performed maintenance on the LyondellBasell facility near La Porte. The burst pipe sent vaporized acetic acid into the air, killing 2 workers and sending 30 more to the hospital. Acetic acid can cause burns and respiratory damage when encountered in high quantities—this accident involved over 100,000 pounds of spilled mixture containing it. Just weeks before this chemical leak, the LyondellBasell facility 15 miles away in Galena Park made headlines for a chemical leak. While officials said it wasn’t dangerous, nearby residents reported noticing a garlic-like odor that caused them to experience headaches and nausea.
Wrongful Death from Chemical Plant Accidents
When people die in chemical plant accidents, families lose both a loved one and the ability to build a stable future. Many plant workers are the sole breadwinners for their households, meaning their deaths not only rob families of their parents or spouses—they're robbed of weekly groceries, of the ability to pay the rent or mortgage, and of the peace of mind that comes from a stable paycheck. Chemical companies know this, but they still do nothing to lend a hand or help support widows and widowers. Our chemical plant accident lawyers won't stand for it.
Arnold & Itkin fights for bereaved families in order to get them the money they need. We've helped thousands of spouses and children get what they needed to keep their homes, put food on the table, start a new career, or whatever else they needed to take care of themselves and their households. If your family member was killed in a plant accident, your loss deserves to be answered for. That's what our firm does—we get answers.
Plant accident wrongful death claims help families recover money equal to:
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Projected future earnings
- Punitive damages
Chemical Plant Accident FAQ
What types of injuries do chemical plant accidents cause?
Chemical plant accidents have the potential to cause catastrophic injury to plant workers. They can even cause harm to people living and working in buildings in the area, and they can cause environmental harm. When explosions occur, workers are at the highest risk of harm and may experience serious trauma from being thrown into the air in the initial blast, burned by a resulting fire, inhaling toxic fumes, or trying to run from the incident. Other incidents, like falls, heavy equipment malfunction, and chemical exposure, can lead to head trauma, broken bones, lacerations, and even life-threatening illness.
What should I do if I was injured while working at a chemical plant?
Get medical help as soon as possible, and inform your supervisor or manager. You need to let your employer know, in writing, that you were injured. If your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, this will cover your medical treatment and a portion of your lost wages. Failing to inform your employer will jeopardize your right to these benefits. You should also consider talking to an attorney. The injuries you experienced may be severe and could have a lasting impact on your life. You need to be certain that any compensation you recover is enough to cover all of your medical treatment and lost earnings, now and into the future—plus other losses and harm you’ve had to endure.
Do I have a workers’ comp or personal injury case for a plant accident?
If you were working at the time, you may be covered by workers’ compensation—if your employer carries this insurance. If you were not on the job while injured, if gross negligence was involved, or if someone other than your employer or a co-worker was to blame, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. These are two distinctly different courses of action, but either can help you get the medical care and financial support you need. Make sure you work with an attorney who can help with any type of chemical plant accident to help you seek answers, accountability, and compensation.
Get a Free Consultation from Chemical Plant Injury Attorneys You Can Trust
The aftermath of an accident at a chemical plant is one of the most confusing, volatile times anyone can experience. It is difficult enough trying to piece your life together without having to worry about the legalities of pursuing a claim. That is why, after you have received proper medical attention, it is crucial that you speak to a Houston plant explosion attorney about your case. You need an experienced lawyer who has dealt with these types of cases before—someone who knows the ropes and will be able to offer effective legal counsel. You need the industrial injury attorneys at Arnold & Itkin. With a decade of experience and billions won, we have proven that we are heavyweights both in and out of the courtroom. To see for yourself, all you need to do is browse through our case results or watch videos to see what our clients have to say.
When you are ready to get started, please call (888) 493-1629 or fill out our online form to request your free consultation. We look forward to helping you get the answers you need.