In the state of Texas, many skilled laborers work in plant and refinery jobs every day. Unfortunately, accidents happen. Sometimes these are small and easily resolvable, but other times catastrophes occur, including toxic chemical exposures and large explosions. Learn from a Texas refinery incident attorney how the latter can cause a wide variety of injuries, including hearing loss.
How Explosions Happen at Texas Plants or Refineries
At a plant or refinery, employees are interacting with many different chemicals, as well as high temperatures. These two combined can make for a dangerous and unpredictable work environment. An explosion can happen simply due to defective machinery or user error—the massive machines found at a plant or refinery are running for long hours under a lot of stress—and sometimes the workers are, too. If even the slightest component is not operating properly, it can cause an explosion.
Other causes of explosion include:
- Chemicals. In order for an explosion to occur, chemicals must be able to generate a large amount of gas rapidly. They only become dangerous when this gas production occurs, and it comes into contact with oxygen. Historically, chemical explosions have occurred as a result of a gas leak. When the leak comes into contact with a heat source, everyone is at risk. At other times, plant owners use impure chemicals that can also produce large amounts of hazardous gas, increasing the chances of an explosion.
- Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosions. Also known as BLEVEs, this type of explosion occurs when a stored liquid begins to boil from within its sealed container. When a substance is heated, it will turn into a gas, which requires more space than liquids. If there is not enough space in the container for this rapidly expanding gas, it will cause the container to explode. BLEVEs are usually the result of fire exposure. When pressurized containers heat up, either unexpectedly or through employee negligence, oftentimes, the container cannot withstand the pressure of expansion.
Hearing Loss From an Explosion in Pasadena
A hearing loss injury can be sudden and instantaneous when it is caused by a plant or refinery explosion. It is, unfortunately, also often permanent. Whenever an individual experiences sudden exposure to very loud noise, the hair cells in the lower cochlea can be injured. This is the portion of the ear responsible for picking up high frequencies. Symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss include:
- A “ringing” in the ears
- Noticing sounds are now muffled
- A “full” feeling in the ears
- Diminished ability to hear high frequencies
Sometimes this injury will resolve itself within a few days, but unfortunately, in many instances, hair cell damage is permanent.
What to Do After Experiencing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Acoustic trauma is a life-altering injury that may render you unable to continue your line of work. It also affects everything in your day-to-day life, including having conversations with your loved ones or simply enjoying your favorite television show. We live in a hearing world, and losing this ability can be devastating.
If you experience noise-induced hearing loss from a plant or refinery explosion, first get medical care right away. Inform an emergency room doctor if you suspect your hearing has been affected by the accident. It is also important to report your injury. With an incident as catastrophic as an explosion, employers will be researching and dealing with many things. This needs to include knowing which employees were injured and how.
After you have sought medical care and reported the acoustic trauma to the appropriate contact at your plant or refinery, it is time to reach out to a lawyer. An experienced injury attorney can help you recover costs related to your noise-induced hearing loss, including:
- Lost wages
- Medical costs
- Pain and suffering
At SJ Injury Attorneys, we have experience navigating injury claims related to Texas plants and refineries. Call us today when you’re ready to have a caring and proactive attorney on your side.