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Refinery Injury Reports Prompt Worker Strike

The recent strike by members of the United Steelworkers labor union has highlighted a rash of refinery injury reports. The union cited statistics that showed workers were in danger of a refinery injury from a fire or explosion at an average rate of twice per month. Union representatives blamed the refinery injury incidents on worker fatigue due to excessive work hours, as well as contract workers who did not receive adequate job safety training.

Fatal Refinery Injury Incidents On The Rise

A major cause for the strike involves the number of fatal refinery injury incidents that have occurred over the last decade. In September 2004, an explosion at the BP refinery at Texas City, Texas, killed two pipefitters and injured another worker. Six months later, in March 2005, a larger explosion at the same plant killed 15 workers and injured 180. A recent op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times stated that at least 50 fatal refinery injury incidents have occurred across the country since 2007. Workers at the Texas City plant, as well as more than 6,500 workers in plants across Texas and other states, are participating in the strike.

Workers Cite Poor Conditions In Refinery Injury Reports

The striking workers are protesting the lack of safety conditions that could prevent such serious refinery injury problems from occurring. Workers on strike have cited management demands that they work 12 hours a day for 30 consecutive days. The workers claim that these long hours and long stretches with no days off lead to worker fatigue, which raises the chances of a refinery injury incident. They also claim that at least one refinery is exposing workers to dangerous chemicals, such as modified hydrofluoric acid.

California Explosion Leads To Refinery Injury Incident

On February 18, 2015, an explosion at an Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance, California, led to at least four workers suffering from refinery injuries. The refinery injuries were relatively minor, including cuts, bruises and smoke inhalation. Residents reported seeing an ash-like substance fall from the sky after the blast. Geologists reported that the blast has the same effect as an earthquake measuring 1.4 on the Richter scale.

Are Refinery Injuries Preventable?

While most refinery workers will maintain that the work in inherently dangerous, many of them and their families also believe that such serious refinery injury problems can be prevented. In California, a group appointed by Governor Jerry Brown submitted a report last month that included testimony from workers about obsolete structures, poor maintenance practices, and punitive actions directed at those who sought to stop potentially dangerous operations. The report also stated that current regulations are poorly enforced and that penalties fail “to create meaningful deterrence” to prevent refinery injuries.

Sources: Houston Press
Los Angeles Times (op-ed)
Los Angeles Times (Torrance explosion)

Know Your Rights in a Refinery Injury Lawsuit

To find out how we can help you with a refinery injury lawsuit, contact us today at 877-892-2797. Our friendly staff will ask a few questions about your case and connect you to a workplace refinery injury lawsuit attorney. You can also fill out the “Free Case Evaluation” form at the top of this page.

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