Workers in Louisiana are exposed to a variety of hazards at their job sites, but none is more prolific throughout one stretch along the Mississippi River as chemical dangers. That area, surrounding the town of Geismar, is the home of a burgeoning chemical industry. Experts say that the region is seeking an unprecedented economic expansion; after all, the so-called “chemical corridor” processes about 25 percent of the U.S. petrochemicals consumed annually. With that economic growth, though, comes the darker possibility of workplace accidents so severe that workers’ compensation is required to pay for injury claims.
The tragic explosion of a fertilizer storage facility in a neighboring state brought attention to the dangers that plague the chemical production industry. Even though the federal government has gotten involved by implementing the Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group, industry professionals say that safety is still a major concern in many of these plants. A recent explosion at the Williams Olefins plant in Geismar underscores the need for enhanced safety regulations for workers who handle hazardous chemicals every day. A fatal explosion occurred at a nearby fertilizer plant just one day after that blast, killing one employee and causing injuries for eight others.
Experts say that chemical and refinery workers are exposed to toxic and flammable materials on a daily basis. Even though chemical industry professionals argue that injury rates are lower in their facilities, the numbers may not be all they seem. Extra analysis shows that chemical plants’ injury rates would be significantly higher with the inclusion of smaller incidents such as those affecting contract workers.
Ultimately, the chemical industry needs to realize that all workers deserve safe job sites without the risk of personal injury. They should take necessary measures to protect their employees, no matter which kind of hazardous chemicals are in use.
Source: www.pottsmerc.com, “Chemical plants bring dangers, as well as jobs, for workers and community” Reid R. Frazier, Nov. 04, 2013