Poor Facility Maintenance
Studies of the most recent
plant explosions reveal that the leading cause for a chemical accident on the work site
is a poorly maintained facility. The chemicals produced on an industrial
plant are done so through the use of a broad range of equipment and tools.
This equipment requires both specialized training and proper maintained
in order to perform its purposes efficiently and safely. If the plant
operators fail to comply with maintenance and safety regulations concerning
their equipment, the risk of disaster is heighted dramatically.
The equipment found on most chemical plants is likely to include boilers,
cooling towers, and various other types of pumps, tools, and tanks. Conveyors
and refrigeration systems are also commonly found on a chemical site.
All of these tools require special attention to maintenance in order to
ensure their safe operation. Federal authorities and private agencies
have worked together to compile regulations for maintaining these chemical
plants so as to safeguard the workers on the plants and those living in
close proximity to the plants from being hurt in a chemical spill or explosion.
Chemical Plant Equipment
At each step in the process, there are different tools involved. The first
step is obviously to transport the raw materials and compounds to the
plant. At the time of transport, the chemicals are delivered in either
liquid or solid form. Once they reach the plant, they are then placed
in large tanks where the solid and liquid compounds are mixed together
by large paddles to process them into gases and then transport them through
tower reactors. These reactors are intended to move chemicals in specific
directions so as to cause the desired chemical reaction. The tower reactors
can be very hot in order to melt raw materials and provide the necessary
environment for the right chemical reaction.
Equally important are the systems behind the operation. After mixing the
elements at high temperatures, the new compounds must be cooled in order
to store them. This requires the support of cooling towers and special
refrigeration systems for the storage of more temperature sensitive products.
All the machinery on site requires support equipment to provide energy.
Chemical plant equipment is either powered by air compression or electricity,
which require on-site power systems. Conveyor belts, pumps, and transport
pipes are also important members of a chemical plant.
Who is responsible for proper maintenance?
Chemical plants have been an obvious safety concern since the mid-1900s
after a series of explosions drew public attention to this necessary but
often dangerous industry. Federal law has been implemented on this subject
in several forms to ensure the protection of the workers, the purity of
the products produced, and overall public safety. Employers in the industry
are required to supervise the maintenance of their plants by equipping
their employees with tools and resources to perform routine inspections
of the equipment and also to recognize the need for special maintenance.
Workers assigned to maintenance are expected to inspect and replace outdated
or worn equipment, especially those that may pose a risk if overlooked,
such as catalysts, reagents, and boilers. In addition to routine checks
of equipment, workers are also relied upon to report and respond to special
needs of equipment such as leaks in storage units and mixers, products
falling short of specifications, and regulations and mechanical failures
in the plant support equipment.
While the employees of an industrial plant all share in the responsibility
of maintaining a safe work environment, the superiors on site and at the
head of the company are ultimately responsible for training their employees
on federal and company safety policies. The plant supervisors are also
responsible for enforcing rules and regulations; failure to do so can
result in a citation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Poor Maintenance & Industrial Accident Injuries
Sustaining a clean, safe chemical plant is in the best interest of everyone;
the workers at the plant, consumers of the products, and residents living
in close proximity to the plant are all affected by the condition of the
work site. Therefore, it is imperative for any shortfalls to be attended
immediately. Overlooked failures or problems can skew the effectiveness
of the chemical process and easily lead to an unintended reaction in the
chemicals. Furthermore, leaks or mechanical failures can contaminate the
environment in the form of pollution and chemical spills.
While many industrial accidents are pursued through the means of workers'
compensation, cases involving special circumstances such as the gross
neglect for facility maintenance, the involvement of a third party, or
equipment defect can pursue further action through the means of a personal
injury claim. In order to determine the best course of action for your
particular situation, it is highly advisable that you
contact an industrial injury lawyer who is familiar with plant explosions and the liability factors in the
industry. Contact our firm today for a free case evaluation.