Available 24/7/365 Free Consultations
(800) 349-0000
Request Free Consultation

Chemical Plant Safety

Posted on January 31, 2022 in

Chemical factory explosions can be devastating – even fatal – which is why it is so vital to have chemical plant safety practices in place to avoid any accidents because they are preventable.

Chemical plant disasters can be avoided through consistent, scheduled maintenance and the documents to prove that scheduled maintenance was conducted. The Williams Olefins plant explosion and fire in Geismar, Louisiana, in 2013, was the result of poor communication during safety procedures and unsafe equipment. Unfortunately, the explosion also resulted in the fatalities of two workers. 

What Can Cause Chemical Plant Accidents?

Some of the most common causes of chemical plant accidents are: 

  • Human error
  • Poor training
  • Defective equipment
  • Negligent equipment maintenance
  • Employers failing to follow state or federal safety regulations
  • Inadequate employee safety gear
  • Improper storage of chemicals and combination of combustible materials

Most chemical factory explosions, fires, and accidents are not caused by just these standalone factors, but they involve multiple factors above working together to build up the risks.

What Are the Federal Safety Regulations?

The United States Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has created specific safety guidelines that must be followed by chemical plant employers and employees. This is because the organization has determined that the existence and further release of toxic, reactive, and flammable substances in various industries could result in catastrophic explosions, resulting in injuries and accidents.

OSHA’s Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (PSM) standard, for example, addresses requirements that ensure safe workplaces for employees when in use of chemicals in the general and construction industries. PSM also incorporates technology and management procedures.

According to OSHA, proper training for programs is the best way to keep employees safe. 

What Are the Best Ways to Prevent Chemical Accidents?

Through Proper Training. From initial training for new employees to ongoing refresher training every three years, employers are responsible for providing the kind of training that gives employees a clear understanding of operating procedures of the chemical plant, safety guidelines, and emergency response if necessary. There should also be a record that employees attended the training and understood the information.

Through Proper Safety Equipment. Dozens of equipment is out there for employers to protect chemical plant workers and lessen the risk of accidents, including:

  • Carbon monoxide and additional gas detectors
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Proper ventilation and respiration
  • Flammable safety cabinets
  • Earplugs and protective eyewear
  • Eye-washing equipment in case of splashes
  • Hydrostatic pressure tests
  • Safety valves regulating gas pressure
  • Protective suits and gloves

Through Proper Plant Design. Before the construction of the chemical factory building itself, there are design elements that can be drawn into the floorplan’s layout to decrease safety hazards and risks, including:

  • The location of the plant
  • Research into water and electricity connections
  • Research into the temperatures needed for the building for specific chemicals
  • Consultation with equipment manufacturers to provide proper space for tools and testing labs
  • Rate of airflow throughout
  • Working pressures throughout

What Is the Best Chemical Plant Safety Guideline?

Dangerous incidents onsite can be thwarted by employers who spend the time to: thoroughly train employees on a consistent basis, monitor ongoing equipment maintenance, ensure no costs are cut on safety equipment, and make sure all employees know what steps to take in an emergency situation. In the event of an incident, a Houston chemical plant explosion attorney may be able to help make sense of the situation and hold the responsible party accountable.