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Why Plant Explosions Don't Surprise Us Anymore

Posted By Arnold & Itkin || 21-Jan-2016

On Saturday, a PeroxyChem plant in Pasadena exploded, killing one worker and injuring three others. PeroxyChem produces chemicals used in the food industry, cleaning products, pharmaceuticals, and more. One of their tanks, holding an oil-based cleaner, malfunctioned during a transfer of chemicals and ignited. The explosion tragically resulted in the death of a 62-year-old contract worker.

However tragic and sad, this event was not the focus of a recent article in the Houston Press. Rather, it was how commonplace events like this have become that was the true focus. Writer Dianna Wray highlights that workers in the oil and chemical manufacturing industries understand the risks of their chosen occupation. However, as the article puts it, “But even though the risks are known, these types of industry are left with very little regulatory oversight, until something catastrophic happens.”

The Math of Impending Disaster

OSHA employs about 2,200 inspectors today, who are responsible for overseeing 130 million workers at 8 million locations. That means each inspector is responsible for maintaining the safety of 59,000 workers at 3,600 job locations. If they inspected a new workplace every single day, without holidays or sick leave, it would take every OSHA inspectors 10 years without ceasing to conduct routine inspections for every workplace where they have jurisdiction, just once.

Just like the math has indicated, when OSHA arrived to investigate the PeroxyChem tragedy, it was the first time they had been on the plant's premises in more than a decade.

OSHA is severely underprepared to hold the industrial industries accountable for negligent behavior or faulty equipment. Even if they had the manpower to check every plant once a year, it would not guarantee that faults or dangerous circumstances would be discovered. The fact of the matter is that employers would keep themselves accountable in an ideal world—unfortunately, our world is not ideal.

Until reform comes to the organizations responsible for keeping workers safe, explosions and tragedies will continue to occur. Whether they are fatal or result in severe injury, the industrial accident attorneys at Arnold & Itkin hope industrial workers and plant employees will be kept safe through good practices, adequate training, functional equipment, and proper safety measures.

Client's portion of total recovery may be subject to Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement claims, Medicare/Medicaid liens or other third-party claims or liens. These verdicts and settlements are intended to be representative of cases handled by Arnold & Itkin, LLP. These listings are not a guarantee or prediction of the outcome of any other claims.

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