Every year, oil refinery accidents throughout the country cause catastrophic injuries and property damage. Workers in this industry have incredibly dangerous jobs, and they deserve to be protected by implemented safety measures designed to prevent anyone from becoming harmed. Our personal injury attorneys are dedicated to helping individuals who have been hurt on the job or who have lost a family member in one of the state’s many oil refinery accidents obtain the compensation they need for lost wages, medical expenses, and more.
How Common are Oil Refinery Accidents in Louisiana?
Sadly, oil refinery accidents in Louisiana are quite common. There was an explosion at Tenneco Oil in Chalmette in 1976 that killed 12 people and injured many others. More recently, in August of 2012, 60 tons of carbon monoxide and one ton of benzene were released at Motiva/Shell in Norco, and in 2014, an accident at ExxonMobil right here in Baton Rouge caused a contract worker to lose his legs.
What Makes Oil Refinery Accidents Catastrophic?
In many oil refineries, equipment needs to be replaced or repaired, malfunctioning machinery is not uncommon, and safety standards are not adhered to properly. These dangerous conditions can cause tragic accidents, such as devastating explosions. Toxic chemicals and heavy equipment can also cause severe injuries to workers. At the same time, flammable and hazardous materials are on the worksite, and complex equipment must also be used. This increases the likelihood that a catastrophic accident will occur and result in a number of injuries and deaths.
Determining Liability for Oil Refinery Accidents
Under Louisiana law, all oil refinery companies are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover the lost income and medical expenses of injured employees. Unfortunately, contract workers are not usually covered by workers’ compensation. Additionally, when a third party, such as a manufacturer, delivery driver, or supplier, causes an accident, injured workers can file a third-party injury claim directly against them. It is always recommended that oil refinery workers hire an attorney who can help them determine who is liable, and advise on the full compensation workers are entitled to.
Common Types of Oil Refinery Accidents
Workers become injured in a number of different oil refinery accidents, including the following:
- Chemical spills and gas leaks: Workers can become burned or poisoned when fumes or toxic materials are emitted. Equipment that is improperly maintained or workers who are negligent can also cause these accidents.
- Fires and explosions: The risk of fires and explosions substantially increases when employees have to work with combustible materials, which are very common in oil refineries. Defective equipment and human error are the most common causes of fires, explosions, and other types of oil refinery accidents.
- Falls: Workers in oil refineries can slip on unstable or irregular surfaces, fall over broken railings, or trip on clutter or debris. These accidents can result in concussions, broken bones, and other injuries that prevent them from working for a long period of time.
- Crushing accidents: Workers in oil refineries are commonly around heavy equipment that can crush bystanders or operators when they are not handled properly or if they are defective.
Common Oil Refinery Illnesses Contracted by Workers
Hazardous chemicals and fumes can result in oil refinery workers contracting respiratory injuries and poisonings. The chemicals used in refineries are very dangerous, as they are highly toxic. Workers, as well as people who live near refineries, can all become hurt. Life-threatening injuries can result from exposure to noxious substances such as hydrofluoric acid, sulfuric acid, and ammonia. Explosions can happen when the wrong chemicals are combined. When exposure happens over the long term, even seemingly innocuous materials, such as methanol, can pose health hazards, as well.
Some substances that are emitted by chemical plants, such as hydrogen sulfide, can be extremely toxic. Due to the fact that these chemicals are odorless, even at high concentrations, they can result in workers becoming poisoned. Refinery workers are regularly exposed to gas emissions due to the operations in the refinery, gas leaks, and fumes. Inhaling these chemicals can be catastrophic, and the most common injuries sustained are respiratory conditions.
Our Oil and Gas Industry Accident Lawyers in Baton Rouge Can Help After Injury
If you or someone you love has been hurt in an accident, you do have legal options. At Big River Trial Attorneys, our Baton Rouge oil and gas industry accident lawyers can explain what those are and help you and your family obtain the fair settlement you deserve. Call us now at (225) 963-9638 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to get more information.