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Common Refinery Safety Violations Capable of Causing Accidents

Posted on June 25, 2024 in

Refining the oil that our country so desperately needs for everyday products is an intensive process. Unfortunately, significant hazards can occur at oil refineries in Texas. Some of the hazards may seem fairly obvious, such as fire, explosion, and chemical risks. However, other hazards, such as hearing and vision loss, respiratory injuries, and more, also regularly occur. Many of the risks associated with oil refineries involve violations of safety standards. An oil refinery explosion attorney may be able to help if you or a loved one were harmed in a preventable blast.

1. Improper Storage of Chemicals

Improperly stored chemicals are a significant hazard in refineries. Volatile substances such as gasoline and propane must be correctly contained and separated to prevent explosions. Mismanagement of chemical storage can lead to catastrophic incidents, posing severe threats to workers and the environment.

2. Inadequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal protective equipment is essential for safeguarding workers from numerous hazards, including chemical exposure and physical injuries. Violations often occur when companies fail to provide adequate PPE or ensure it is correctly used. Common PPE violations include a lack of respiratory protection, eye and face protection, and proper headgear.

3. Failure to Follow Lockout/Tagout Procedures

Lockout/tagout procedures are so important for ensuring that machinery is properly shut off and cannot be restarted while maintenance or repairs occur. Failure to follow lockout/tagout these procedures can lead to accidental startups, causing severe injuries or fatalities. This violation is one of the most frequently cited by OSHA in refinery settings​.

4. Unsafe Confined Spaces

Working in confined spaces such as tanks, silos, and pipelines is inherently dangerous due to risks like asphyxiation, toxic vapors, and entrapment. OSHA mandates that these spaces be classified, tested before entry, and continuously monitored. Violations often involve failure to assess and label confined spaces properly or to train employees on safe entry procedures​.

5. Poor Maintenance of Equipment

Equipment in refineries must be regularly inspected and maintained to ensure safe operation. Poor maintenance can lead to equipment failures, increasing the risk of accidents. Common issues include faulty valves, worn-out hoses, and defective pressure relief devices, all of which can cause leaks, fires, or explosions.

6. Lack of Proper Training

Insufficient training is a prevalent issue in refineries. Workers must be trained to recognize hazards, use equipment safely, and respond to emergencies. Training deficiencies can lead to improper handling of hazardous materials and unsafe working practices, significantly increasing the risk of accidents.

7. Inadequate Emergency Response Plans

Effective emergency response plans are crucial for minimizing the impact of accidents when they occur. Violations often involve the lack of comprehensive emergency plans, inadequate emergency drills, and insufficient communication during emergencies. These shortcomings can exacerbate the consequences of accidents, leading to more significant harm to workers and the environment​.

Contact an Attorney for Help

If you or a loved one have been harmed at an oil refinery due to the negligent actions of another party, whether that be an employer or another third party involved, you may need assistance from whichever. Recovering compensation is paramount but often involves filing a personal injury lawsuit. You can reach out for a free consultation by filling out our contact form or calling (800) 349-0000 today.