Each year, oil refinery accidents in the United States cause catastrophic damage, injuries, and loss of life. Jobs in this industry are incredibly dangerous, and workers deserve to be protected by safety measures implemented to prevent people from being harmed. At Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers, we help individuals who’ve suffered harm or lost a family member in one of the state’s many oil and gas extraction accidents secure compensation for medical treatment and lost wages.
Why Are Oil Industry Accidents Catastrophic?
In many refineries, equipment needs repair or replacement, machinery malfunctions are common, and safety standards are not followed appropriately. These conditions can cause devastating explosions and other tragic accidents. Workers may also experience severe injuries caused by heavy equipment or toxic chemicals. At the same time, hazardous and flammable materials and complicated equipment are present, increasing the likelihood that an accident will be catastrophic and result in many injuries and deaths.
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Who Is Liable for Oil Refinery Injuries?
Louisiana law requires oil refineries to carry workers’ comp insurance to cover their employees’ medical bills and lost income due to injuries. Unfortunately, you may not be covered if you are a contract worker. In addition, employees may need to be concerned if a third party causes an accident, such as a delivery driver, manufacturer, or supplier. In these cases, that party may be liable for reimbursing you, and you may need the help of an attorney to pursue the damages to which you’re entitled.
What Are Common Oil Refinery Accidents?
Accidents that injure workers in oil refineries happen every day from different causes, including the following:
- Fires and explosions: Working with combustible materials substantially increases the risk of fires and explosions. Human error and defective equipment are often the cause of these and other oil refinery accidents.
- Chemical spills and gas leaks: Workers can be poisoned or burned when toxic materials or fumes are emitted. These accidents can also be due to inadequately maintained equipment and negligent workers.
- Crushing accidents: Refinery workers are frequently around heavy equipment, such as forklifts, that can crush an operator or bystander if defective or mishandled.
- Falls: Refinery workers can slip on irregular or unstable surfaces, trip on debris, or fall over broken railings. As a result, they may suffer broken bones, concussions, and other injuries that can keep them out of work for an extended period.
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What Are Common Illnesses Contracted by Workers at Refineries?
Oil refinery accidents can also cause respiratory injuries and poisonings due to exposure to hazardous chemicals and fumes, including the following:
Toxic Chemical Exposure, Poisoning, and Lung Damage
Refinery chemicals can be highly toxic and dangerous to workers and nearby residents of a refinery. Life-threatening accidents can result from chemical exposure related to noxious substances such as sulfuric acid, hydrofluoric acid, and ammonia. Combining the wrong chemicals can also result in an explosion. Long-term exposure to relatively innocuous materials such as methanol can cause health issues, as well.
Some substances emitted by chemical plants can be extremely toxic, such as hydrogen sulfide. Odorless at high concentrations, this chemical has caused many industrial workers to be poisoned.
Refinery workers are continuously being exposed to gas emissions due to refinery operations, fumes, or gas leaks. The effects of inhaling these chemicals can be deleterious, with respiratory conditions being among the most common.
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Accidents at Louisiana Refineries
Many tragic accidents have occurred at Louisiana refineries, including the following:
- Tenneco Oil in Chalmette, August 1976: Explosion kills 12 and injures many more.
- Shell in Norco, May 1988: Explosion kills seven workers and injures 48 workers and local residents.
- Exxon in Baton Rouge, December 1989: Explosion kills two workers and injures several others.
- Maryland Ashland Petroleum in Garyville, January 2002: Chemical burns kill a worker.
- Calumet in Shreveport, March 2007: Explosion injures two workers.
- ConocoPhillips in Belle Chasse, July 2008: Accident causes three workers to suffer severe steam burns.
- Marathon in Garyville, April 2009: Contract worker killed in a fall at the Marathon refinery.
- ExxonMobile in Chalmette, October 2010: Worker dies from hydrogen sulfide leak.
- Motiva/Shell in Norco, August 2012: 60 tons of carbon monoxide and one ton of benzene released.
- Williams Olefins in Geismar, June 2012: Two workers were killed and more than 70 injured in a plant explosion.
- ExxonMobil in Baton Rouge, November 2014: – Accident causes contract worker to lose his legs.
Contact Laborde Earles for Help With an Oil Refinery Accident
Oil refinery accidents are responsible for injury, disability, and death among workers that these disasters are known to cause. In many instances, the long-term effects of these accidents will exceed an individual’s resources. If you were injured in an oil refinery accident, Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers will fight for you to receive compensation for your injuries and lost income. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation and learn more about your legal options.
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