What causes plant refinery explosions?
Fires and explosions at oil refineries are generally catastrophic events, with the potential to injure or kill dozens or hundreds of workers in a single disastrous event. In addition to the risk of fatal or non-fatal injury from burns and smoke inhalation, plant workers harmed in an explosion might suffer concussions or broken bones from the blast or just trying to escape the fire, as well as hearing loss and injuries from falls or being struck by or penetrated by flying objects or shrapnel. But what causes plant refinery explosions to occur? Are they unavoidable industrial hazards, or is someone usually to blame when they happen? Learn more about the causes of plant refinery explosions below, and if you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in a refinery accident in the Golden Triangle, Houston, Galveston, Texas City or anywhere in Texas, contact a dedicated and experienced Beaumont oilfield accident attorney for assistance in getting the care and compensation you need and deserve.
Most Common Refinery Explosion Causes
Conditions are ripe for fires and explosions in oil refineries. You have the buildup of gases, heat, and chemical reactions; all are expected components facets of the refining process. However, this does not mean that explosions cannot be prevented. In fact, when we look more closely at the reasons refinery explosions occur, we find that they can and should always be prevented if only those responsible had taken more care to see that operations were undertaken safely. Following are some of the most common causes of refinery explosions.
Improperly stored chemicals –Many different types of chemicals can be found on-site, including precursors, catalysts, and end-products. These chemicals might be stable initially, but they can become chemically unstable if stored incorrectly, such as being stored in the wrong kind of container, stored at the wrong temperature or humidity, or exposed to other chemical substances they are prone to react with.
Hot Work – Any type of work operation that can generate a spark can cause a refinery fire or explosion. While hot work is necessary in refineries, special precautions should be taken in every instance to eliminate the risk of work operations causing a fire or explosion.
Using impure or dirty chemicals – Performed correctly, oil refining is a controlled, precise chemical process. It therefore requires the use of pure chemicals for reactions to occur properly. If chemicals used in the refining process are impure, “dirty” or low-quality, chemical reactions will not happen correctly and can instead cause fires and explosions.
Improperly maintained equipment – All aspects of the refining process – temperature, pressure, mixing – must be precise and controlled, and the precision equipment involved in refining must be in proper working order at all times. Plant managers, owners and employees have a duty to inspect, calibrate, maintain, and repair equipment as needed. Corroded valves and other critical pieces of equipment are common causes of refinery plant explosions.
Failure to follow safety protocols – From hot work to taking shortcuts and skipping known safety precautions, worker negligence and mistakes can lead to refinery fires and plant explosions for many reasons. Companies are responsible for the acts of their employees, and anyone injured in a refinery explosion could have a claim against the refinery for the harm they suffered.
Lack of training and supervision – Refineries can be held liable for negligence and mistakes caused by workers under many different legal theories, including negligent training and negligent supervision. Chemical plants have a solemn responsibility to screen their applicants, employees and contractors and only hire workers who can perform the work safely and competently. Refineries must provide adequate training and also supervise workers to ensure jobs are being done safely.
OSHA violations – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) promulgates rules and safety standards across all industries and occupations, including activities in refineries and chemical plants. OSHA standards cover every aspect of the job related to health and safety, including the provision and maintenance of tools and machinery, personal protective equipment (PPE), job training and safety training. OSHA requires proper product labeling, securing electrical hazards (lockout/tagout), and physical plant features such as ventilation, emergency exits, and fire suppression. OSHA violations can lead to expensive fines, and they can also be evidence of a plant owner’s negligence and liability for injuries caused by a fire or explosion on-site.
Call for Help After a Refinery Explosion or Other Industrial Accident
Well blowouts, boiler explosions, and countless other incidents cause catastrophic or fatal injury in a refinery explosion, plant fire, or other industrial accident. If you have suffered injury or lost a loved one in a refinery explosion or other industrial accident, contact an experienced and dedicated personal injury and wrongful death attorney at the Gilbert Adams Law Offices for a free consultation by calling 409-835-3000.