As a Georgia Workers’ Comp lawyer and Atlanta injury attorney representing workers in refinery explosions, boiler explosions, and other workplace accidents, I often see tragic accidents occur when a plant, or large piece of equipment at an industrial facility, is brought online or shutdown. Recently, a large work accident occurred at a refinery in Utah while the refinery’s crude unit was being restarted. Officials from the Tesoro refinery said liquid hydrocarbons were released from a flare stack during the restart effort after a power outage.
Oil companies, paper companies, and other industrial employers and premises owners have detailed checklists and procedures for firing equipment and boilers after a shutdown. Dangerous vapors and chemicals, like liquid hydrocarbons, should be evacuated from something like a crude unit, and the managers onsite should verify, and re-verify, that the unit is safe to fire prior to actually bringing it back online. Often, accidents like the Tesoro facility are brought about by management’s rush to get the refinery back in operation and a willful ignorance of internal safety procedures or OSHA guidelines regarding facility re-start after an outage.