Oil and petroleum refineries are, of course, important parts of the energy production industry — but they can also be quite dangerous. The work requires a variety of chemicals — and those chemicals can cause serious health problems for workers if they are mishandled.
A toxic chemical spill or individual contact with oil refinery chemicals, a fire or explosion, or even just the overall air quality at a Texas refinery may expose any number of workers to hazards and can lead to lasting health complications.
The Danger of Acids in and Around Oil Refineries
A variety of highly acidic chemicals — including hydrofluoric acid — are used as part of the refining process. If those acids come into contact with a worker’s skin, the damage can be substantial — even life-threatening.
To help protect workers, refineries will provide workers with gear designed to keep them from contact with the acidic chemicals that are essential to their work.
Texas Oil Refineries: Fire and Explosion
Many chemicals found at refineries are flammable, which means the risk of fire is always present. In some cases, these flammable oil refinery chemicals can lead to an explosion. The risk of injury or death resulting from a fire or explosion is extremely high.
Among the essential safety measures that must be taken is ensuring that employees never burn anything in the refinery. That includes something as simple as lighting a cigarette in proximity to flammable chemicals. The result of such a mistake — or of a company failing to alert its employees to the dangers of flammable chemicals — can be catastrophic.
The Danger of Air Pollution in Texas Oil Refineries
We tend to think of air pollution as the kind of thing that affects major metropolitan areas. But the fact of the matter is that the air at an oil refinery can itself be highly polluted.
Texas refineries may release a variety of dangerous chemicals including, but not limited to, benzene, ethylbenzene, xylene, toluene. The names of these characters are a mouthful, but what is important is that they can be extremely dangerous if inhaled regularly. Inhaling benzene, for example, can lead to a variety of negative health impacts including:
- Irregular or rapid heartbeat
Of course, the opportunity to inhale these chemicals is ever-present in a refinery, so companies provide appropriate safety equipment and regular reminders to their workforce to help minimize the risks.
What to Do After You've Suffered Injuries From Oil Refinery Chemicals
If you are hurt in a refinery accident in Texas or diagnosed with a condition related to exposure to hazardous oil refinery chemicals, you need the help of a personal injury attorney right away.
In some cases, your employer may pressure you to give a statement, sign paperwork, or accept a payout they say is intended to compensate you for your injuries or health issues. You should not do any of those things before consulting with an attorney.
At SJ Injury Attorneys, our Texas plant and refinery accident attorneys have the expertise and experience necessary to ensure that you are treated fairly after a workplace accident or a serious diagnosis related to working conditions. Contact us for a free consultation so that we can learn about your situation and put our expertise to work for you.