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Oil, Chemical, and Gas Leaks/Spills/Explosions

Oil, chemicals, and gas are staples in today’s industry and environment. Recent oil and chemical spills, and gas leaks and explosions have made headlines around the world because of their devastating impact on human and environmental life. Proper handling and knowledge of what to do in an emergency surrounding these resources is essential to the safety of all people and for the protection and sustainability of our environment.

Prevention is Key to Worker and Environmental Safety

Industrial facilities, laboratories, agricultural environments, maintenance personnel, and even office workers may be exposed to toxic substances in their work environments. Proper training on the safe handling and storing of these substances is vital to reducing the risk of serious and sometimes fatal consequences that can occur from exposure. Accidents can happen despite proper training, and knowing what to do in the event of a chemical or oil spill, or a gas leak or explosion can minimize the devastating effects this exposure can have on a worker’s health and the environment.

Regular inspections and routine maintenance of storage facilities should be conducted to prevent leaks and spills. Employers need to supply workers with access to the material safety data sheets (MSDS) for chemicals used in the workplace. The MSDS provides information on the safe handling of these substances, including safe temperature ranges, transportation measures, and safe handling procedures.

Workers must also have access to personal protective equipment such as safety glasses, gloves, and work clothes that prevent exposure to dangerous materials.  Supplies such as paper towels, absorbent materials, cleaning equipment, and instructions on how to handle a spill or leak are essential to minimizing exposure.  Protective safety gear should be available at all times to avoid chemical burns, eye injuries, and inhalation of dangerous gases and vapors that can lead to serious respiratory damage.

What To Do in the Event of an Emergency

Knowing how to respond to chemical and oil spills, or gas leaks and explosions will allow workers to react quickly and minimize damages to both personal health and environmental safety.

Chemical Spill: When a chemical spill occurs, supervisors and workers in the immediate area must be notified of the situation and evacuated, if necessary.  Emergency response crews should be called immediately when warranted. Be sure to provide the team with as much information as possible on the chemicals involved, any injuries that occurred, and the area affected.

Every effort should be made to contain the spill from leaking into other areas.   Simple remedies such as shutting off a valve or picking up a spilled container can prevent further damage and will help reduce exposure. Once the appropriate personnel are on scene to clean up the spill, special attention should be given to the proper disposal of the chemicals and the clean up materials used to prevent further damage to the environment.

Petroleum Spill: Petroleum spills most commonly occur from pipelines, overturned tanker trucks, railroad tankers, petroleum storage areas, and commercial gas stations. When a spill occurs, it is imperative that those responsible report the incident to the proper authorities. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has regulations for reporting to the state or federal authorities based on the amount of petroleum spilled.

The responsible party must comply with all state and federal emergency response programs that can include mechanical containment, gelling agents to prevent the spread of the contamination, and clean up methods that protect wildlife. Failure to adhere to the regulations can result in serious harm to the environment and significant financial and legal consequences for those responsible for the spill.

Gas Leaks and Explosions: A gas leak is always an emergency situation that can quickly lead to explosions and fire. If a gas leak is detected, vacate and evacuate the area or building immediately. Prevent an explosion by eliminating ignition factors, such as electrical currents, fire, cigarettes, and the use of electrical equipment. Emergency response personnel should be notified immediately, and all workers should remain off site until they have had a chance to assess the situation.

Pennsylvania Environmental Lawyers at Williams Cedar Help Victims of Chemical, Oil, and Gas Leaks Claim Justice and Compensation

If you or someone you know has been exposed to toxic chemicals, oil, or gas in the workplace, the experienced team of Pennsylvania environmental lawyers at Williams Cedar can help you claim the compensation you may be entitled to receive. Call us at 215-557-0099, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our Philadelphia offices serve clients throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.