Two Workers Dead at Pasadena, Texas Tanker Washing Facility
Early Reports Indicate That Workers Were Overcome By Toxic Fumes
According to early information provided via Twitter, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) is reporting that two workers have been killed at a tanker truck and railroad tanker car cleaning business in Pasadena. The accident occurred at the former Alpha Technical Services (ATS) “Express Services” tank cleaning facility at 5100 Underwood Road near West Fairmont Parkway around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, December 28th. ATS was acquired by Quala in January 2018. On its website, Quala (“a Cleaner Company”) identifies itself as “… North America’s largest independent network of tank cleaning, maintenance, and industrial services offering comprehensive inspections, testing, and repairs for the chemical, food, and transportation industries.”
The HCSO states that the two fatalities apparently occurred when the workers entered a chemical transport tanker unit but did not specify the type of tanker unit involved. However, tankers are usually used to transport food products such as preprocessed orange juice or milk in bulk quantities or chemicals that are used in the production of other products. The latter type of products is notorious for releasing potentially dangerous fumes if not properly handled.
Federal regulations require that a tanker must be thoroughly cleaned, both inside and outside, at the end of every “run” before it can accept another load. To meet this requirement, tanker washing facilities can be found at truck stops located near areas whose manufacturing and processing industries rely on chemicals and other substances that are produced in different locations and then transported to the final processing plant. Some larger tanker cleaning operations are located near railroad yards and specialize in railroad tanker cars, and a few businesses clean both railroad and semi-truck tanker units. Regardless of the type of tanker unit being cleaned, federal safety guidelines must be followed.
The most common violations of federal safety guidelines include:
- Failure to clearly identify the material that was transported
Federal law requires that the contents of a tanker unit be clearly identified on both the shipping invoice and by external placards placed in clearly visible locations. These placards must not be removed until the tanker has been washed and the washing facility certifies that the tanker is clean. Failure to follow these regulations places wash facility workers at risk of exposure to potentially dangerous substances.
- Failure to provide safety equipment and to closely monitor employee use of such equipment
As mentioned above, many products transported by tanker produce vapors that can cause serious injury or even death if an unprotected worker encounters these vapors during the cleaning process. Although each tanker cleaning business is free to establish its own cleaning procedures so long as they comply with federal regulations, the business must provide adequate safety gear to each employee and assure that such gear is functioning properly.
- Failure to properly train employees regarding safety measure
Merely providing safety equipment to workers is not enough to ensure worker safety! Employers must provide initial and ongoing safety training to each employee whose job function could lead to exposure to potentially toxic substances. Failure to provide such training places employees at unnecessary risk of injury and could expose an employer to an allegation of negligence if an employee injury occurs.
Contacting a Tanker Injury Lawyer
Thanks to federal regulations, tanker unit cleaning accidents are relatively rare. However, when such accidents do occur the cause of these accidents is usually due to either faulty safety gear or a failure to follow established worker safety guidelines. In either case, if an employer’s conduct is found to have contributed to an injury, the employer can be found liable for the consequences of an injury.
If you were injured while transporting or handling potentially toxic substances by a tanker, or injured while cleaning a tanker after its contents were delivered, we invite you to contact the chemical tanker injury lawyer at the Houston office of The Doan Law Firm, a national personal injury law practice with extensive experience in managing industrial chemical injury lawsuits.
When you contact our firm, your case review and first consultation with our tanker injury lawyer is always free on any charges to you and does not require you to hire us as your legal counsel. Should you later decide that a lawsuit is in order and that you would like for us to represent you in court, we are willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your tanker injury case for trial in exchange for a percentage of the final settlement we will win for you.The Doan Law Firm1 Riverway Suite 2500Houston, Texas 77056(832) 835-0000