Refineries are a common landmark on the boundaries of Houston and the surrounding area.
While refineries are major job creators and provide well-paying employment, refineries are also one of the nation’s most dangerous work sites. Employees are injured at refineries almost daily. As attorneys who represent refinery employees, we have seen some gruesome cases.
While the gruesome cases are fun to talk about in morbid humor, there are also many more mundane cases that we keep seeing over and over again. The hope is that readers of this article who work in a refinery, or who know someone who does, will take lessons from the common accidents to help protect them in the future.
Many refinery tasks require at least two people to perform. When one employee uses heavy machinery or work site tools, there is always the potential to injure another worker. If one employee injures another, many do not realize that the employer is still liable for the injury.
We know refinery employees have seen those multi-colored government papers stuck up on bulletin boards in the break room and back offices. No one really takes the time to read them. Maybe people should? They contain your workplace safety rights, and refinery operators are notorious for a let violations slide for far too long.
While some of the most dangerous accidents happen inside the refinery where most of the work occurred, many more accidents happen outside the refinery or at its loading docks. Motor vehicles are always a hazard and crashes do happen. Similarly, when trucks and large equipment vehicles arrive carrying various things that are needed at the work site, occasionally equipment will fall from those vehicles and injure someone.
Back and Neck Injuries from Lifting Heavy Items
While ordinary wear and tear on the body from the work site does not constitute a compensable injury, workers get caught in dangerous situations all the time. These injuries are often life changing and can make it difficult for the injured employee to work in the future.
Faulty Equipment and Inadequate Maintenance
Much of the equipment at most Houston refineries is either old or outdated. Refinery owners often will not fix or replace equipment until they are required to by law or by a union. When an employer needs to replace equipment, it negatively hits their bottom line, so the old equipment remains. It is often hazardous or in poor repair, causing frequent injuries.
Inadequate Employee Training
In an ideal world, a supervisor will walk every single employee through every piece of equipment and describe how it works and what the dangers are. This doesn’t happen as often as it should, however. While many plants are very good about employee training, some are not, and a failure to train employees properly is a workplace safety violation.
While refinery explosions make headlines, the mundane work site injuries like those described above are dangerous work site hazards that occur almost every day. If you or someone you know has been injured at a refinery work site, you should contact an experienced refinery accident attorney to discuss your case and legal options.