Hazards of Petroleum ExposureNovember 14, 2019
An employee at Turner Specialty Services tragically lost his life while performing his regular job duties at a petroleum refining facility in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He was working in a confined space, where he asphyxiated after he lost air supply. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Turner Specialty Services and Hunt Refining Co. did not ensure that the confined space entry permits identified every hazard associated with the space. In addition, Hunt Refining Co. did not conduct periodic evaluations to ensure that Turner Specialty Services met the Process Safety Management standard. As a result, the companies are facing $106,080 in fines.
This fatality is just one example of how hazardous petroleum can be if the appropriate safety precautions are not taken. While the most common hazard associated with petroleum is the risk of an explosion or fire, there are other potentially life-threatening hazards employees may not be aware. The more workers understand these risks, the better they will be able to take the necessary precautions to avoid them.
Examples of Petroleum Hazards in the Workplace
- Fires and Explosions: Petroleum is flammable, and the vapors that come off petroleum products are extremely hazardous because they are heavier than air, which means that they can pool in basements, pits, excavations, and other low-lying areas. Once they are in these areas, an effective ventilation system is needed to remove them. To avoid this from happening, petroleum should be stored in a tightly sealed container. Workers should only pour petroleum in a ventilated area. Petroleum tanks should be kept a safe distance from anything flammable, and smoking should be prohibited anywhere near these products.
- Health Issues: Petroleum products can cause serious damage to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tissue. Because these products remove the skin’s protective oils, it can cause chapping and drying. In more severe cases, it can cause burns and infections. Workers who are exposed to petroleum products should change their clothing frequently, wash all areas of exposed skin, and wear fuel-resistant gloves. Goggles are also highly recommended so that the workers’ eyes are protected. If a petroleum product gets into the eyes, flush them with an eye bath or water bottle, and seek medical attention. If ingested, seek immediate medical attention, as this can lead to impairments of the nervous system, as well as pneumonia.
- Environmental Consequences: Petroleum spills can impact the groundwater and contaminate the public drinking water. According to the federal Clean Water Act, building owners and developers must come up with plans for responding to these spills. Effective prevention approaches include regular inspections of storage tanks, valves, hoses, piping, and tracking fuel deliveries. If a spill occurs, it should be immediately reported to a supervisor, who will determine whether first responders and government agencies should be notified. The appropriate cleanup protocols must be followed, including the use of absorbents and other materials used to treat hazardous materials.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Petroleum Exposure
If you were injured after being exposed to petroleum at work, contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. We will walk you through the claims process and secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online. Located in Baltimore, we serve clients throughout Maryland.