Chemical plants and the chemicals they produce are generally much safer today than 22 years ago, when a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India released 40 metric tons of methyl isocyanate, killing thousands and injuring tens of thousands of people. The industrial accident, widely considered to be the worst in history, served as a wake-up call to the chemical industry worldwide. It was also an impetus for improving chemical plant safety, particularly in the U.S.
But despite the efforts and advances implemented by industry, government, academia, and environmental groups, the most common root cause of a chemical plant accident or explosion continues to be a deficiency in safety management systems. There are, however, many other potential causes, some of which may involve negligence on the part of third parties, such as equipment manufacturers. Accident causes can include unforeseen chemical reactions, equipment failures, human error and other hazards.
Chemical plant accident investigations should, and often go beyond OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) findings or the company’s official accident report. Legal representatives of those injured need to be able to uncover documents, materials and witnesses that can show why and how an accident occurred.
Often those injured in a chemical plant explosion are not limited to the plant’s workers and staff. Nearby residents and business owners can be exposed to toxic fumes or be otherwise affected by resulting fires. In most cases, anyone affected by a chemical explosion should at least consult with an attorney to have his or her case evaluated.
Sometimes the symptoms of an adverse health condition from having been exposed to toxic fumes do not become evident for months or even years. And although some states’ statutes of limitations (or the time period by which a lawsuit must be filed) does not begin until symptoms from injuries suffered appear, it is best to seek legal representation sooner, rather than later.
This becomes all the more evident when one considers that valuable evidence with regard to the incident may be lost and that witnesses’ recollections become less reliable over time. A legal representative may also require some time to determine which of the myriad of federal laws and regulations are applicable to your case.
Read more about oil refinery explosions, which also deals with what you can do to maintain a safer workplace environment.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a chemical plant or industrial explosion, please call or email us today and we will put you in touch with an experienced industrial accident attorney in your area.