The Most Dangerous Workplace Hazards in Houston Refineries

workplace hazardsHouston refineries are a thriving force in the Texas economy. They provide stable employment throughout the region and benefit the entire country. However, the dangers that employees encounter daily often go unrecognized until they personally impact someone’s life.

Even the most diligent employees can be injured instantly when negligence is involved. Workplace hazards in Houston refineries can bring a thriving career to a halt without notice, leaving injured workers in a state of shock. These dangerous workplace hazards have been associated with significant work injuries in Houston refineries.

Chemical Exposure and Contamination

The chemicals used for processing in Houston refineries may present significant health challenges to workers throughout the industry. Exposure to hazardous or toxic materials may result from human error, mechanical malfunction, poor maintenance, and even weather-related events. Not only does exposure occur in the refinery process, but the production of these essential products may create dangerous workplace hazards from potential chemical exposure:

Chemicals can be found and converted between solid, liquid, and gaseous states, resulting in workers’ exposure before they become aware of the hazard. Proper training, safety implementation, and protective gear are essential to mitigate these hazards and prevent respiratory diseases and possible organ damage from exposure. Working in petroleum refineries in Houston may lead to exposure to these substances as well.


Explosions result in some of the most large-scale instantaneous tragedies impacting refinery workers in Texas. Refinery explosions may cause mass wrongful death incidents and widespread injuries, such as burns from flammable liquids and gasses. Again, chemical exposure is a critical concern and can lead to chronic lung disease, skin damage, visual impairments, and damage to the digestive tract, on top of burn injuries.

Refinery explosions in Houston may result from:

  • Defective equipment
  • Safety violations
  • Human error
  • Improper maintenance
  • Improperly stored chemicals and flammable substances

Workers who survive refinery explosions may face lifelong complications and debilitating injuries. Medical care can be ongoing, requiring continuous treatment, monitoring, and rehabilitative therapies.

Uneven, Soiled, and Cluttered Surfaces

Texas refinery workers are surrounded by objects and substances that create workplace hazards that can lead to falls, trips, and slips on uneven and soiled surfaces. Working on multi-leveled platforms using chains, strappings, and other gear can create trip hazards. Using ladders and scaffolding contributes to the risk of fall injuries that are almost 100% preventable.

Workplace hazards are commonly created when these substances soil the walking surfaces in Texas refineries:

  • Grease
  • Oil
  • Dust
  • Water
  • Detergents

According to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), 15% of all work-related deaths in Texas are caused by falls, slips, and trips. Employers must ensure walking and working surfaces are maintained and free of hazards to the extent that is feasible, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Equipment Overloading

Industrial machinery and equipment make Houston refinery tasks more manageable. Many types of equipment require special training to operate. Overloading heavy equipment and machinery may also compromise equipment integrity and lead to significant hazards in the workplace.

Equipment overload can result in the deterioration of structural components and reduced maneuverability, leading to a loss of control.

Workplace hazards created by overloading include:

  • Brake failure
  • Tip-overs and a higher potential for rollovers
  • Tire blowouts

Machinery operators and workers within the vicinity of the equipment may be at an increased risk of danger from this practice. Crush injuries may occur in accidents involving overloaded equipment and uncontrolled hoist loads.

Falling Objects

Even small objects may cause severe injury when falling from any height. Falling objects weighing as little as a pound can result in significant damage and personal injury. These dangerous workplace hazards may be as simple as tools kicked or knocked from walkways and scaffolding. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) may result from these hazards and is a significant cause of death and disability in the United States.

Human Error

human errorOne of the most dangerous workplace hazards in Houston refineries is human error. We depend on our coworkers to take action to reduce on-the-job hazards, and the injuries suffered in Houston refineries are often preventable when precautions are taken.

Human error may be caused by:

  • Overworking
  • Time restraints and unreasonable expectations
  • Distractions
  • A lack of sleep
  • Drugs or prescribed medication
  • Alcohol
  • A lack of training

Proving these causes of human error can be challenging. However, your right to recovery and compensation depends on an in-depth look at the factors contributing to workplace hazards.

Steps to Take When Workplace Hazards Lead to Injury in Houston Refineries

Approximately 100,000 Texas workers make up the largest petrochemical cluster in the world and face these dangerous workplace hazards every day. Taking action following an injury in a Houston refinery accident caused by any workplace hazard is critical.

Take these steps if you can to get help immediately:

  • Call 911 for immediate emergency medical care
  • Take pictures of the scene of the accident and your injuries if you are able
  • Get the contact information of witnesses to the accident
  • Speak with a Pearland work injury lawyer

Immediate medical care leads to better long-term outcomes for those injured in refineries and other industry workplaces. Ultimately, many refinery workers who suffer damages may lose their income-earning capacity due to their injuries. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reports that consumer credit records over a three-year span show $88 billion in medical debt in the United States.

Discuss a Houston Refinery Workplace Injury with a Pearland Work Injury Lawyer

Experiencing a workplace injury may require you or someone you care for to take legal action to recover the compensation they are due. You may be uncertain where to turn or what steps to take first. On-the-job injuries occurring in Houston refineries are complex, and the guidance of a Pearland work injury attorney with experience in handling challenging workplace injury claims is vital.

J.D. Silva & Associates advocates for the rights of injured refinery workers in Houston, providing services on a contingency fee basis, allowing you to seek the help you need without the initial stress of paying upfront for legal services. Time limits apply. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your injuries.