FAQs: Refinery Explosions Texas

Q: What happens during an OSHA inspection?

A: The OSHA inspector will review employer documents pertaining to workplace injuries and hazards, then walk-around the refinery and physically inspect the workplace, and also speak with employees. A representative for the company is allowed to accompany the inspector on the walk-around. After the inspection, the OSHA inspector will informally tell the employer of any possible violations that may have been uncovered during the inspection and will follow up with a copy of the formal inspection report along with fines for violations and suggestions for remediation of the violations.

Q: Who is responsible for making sure that the refinery where I work is safe?

A: The corporation that owns the refinery and general manager are responsible for ensuring the safety of all workers at the refinery. The extent of each party's responsibility will vary depending on the accident that occurred in your case.

Q: What should I do if I have reported safety hazards at the refinery where I work and no action has been taken to correct them?

A: Whenever you report safety hazards to your supervisor, it is important that you have it in writing or documentation, like an email, that you have notified them. If there is no corrective action in a reasonable period of time, then you can notify the supervisor above them or you can contact the OSHA office nearest you to report the safety hazards if you feel it is a danger to you and your fellow workers.

Q: What if my work-related accident and injuries were caused by someone other than my employer? Who is responsible?

A: There should always be a thorough investigation immediately following the accident to examine the circumstances that caused or contributed to it. The investigation should not only be handled by investigators, but also experts in the oil industry and trained attorneys to determine the exact cause of your accident. Photographs, witness statements and other evidence should all be collected during this investigation. If it is determined a sub-contractor or someone else caused the accident, then that person or their company may be held liable for the damages and injuries you sustained.

Q: Can I sue my employer if I am injured in an explosion at work?

A: It depends on the accident and the circumstances that lead to it, but generally worker’s compensation benefits are all you can recover, unless there is faulty equipment involved that would allow you to sue the manufacturer. An exception to this rule is possible, as in the gross negligence of BP that led to the explosion at their Texas City plant in 2005 and resulted in the deaths of 15 workers and injured many others.

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