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California refinery unit reopened weeks after accident

Tesoro Corporation is one of the nation's leading petroleum refiners. Unfortunately, in February, an industrial accident occurred at one of the company's California facilities, leaving two of its employees with burns.

The state's Occupational Safety and Health Administration ordered Tesoro to cease the unit's operation six days after a broken pipe sprayed sulfuric acid on two employees at the company's refinery in Martinez. The victims were taken to a local hospital, treated for first- and second-degree burns and released the same day. Cal/OSHA ordered the company to schedule refresher training for employees and re-assess its operating procedures and policies addressing the protection of workers against acid sprays.

The company initially allowed three federal investigators to visit the refinery after the incident but then wouldn't allow investigators to return, contending that the accident wasn't serious enough to require a large-scale probe. This stand-off was later resolved. Recently, state regulators permitted the business to resume operating the refinery unit involved in the accident, after it had been shut down for over two weeks.

An employee who sustains work-related injuries can face financial challenges due to medical expenses and lost wages. In the event of death, the financial impact on the worker's family can be devastating.

Many factors can lead to a workplace accident. Unsafe work environments, as well as insufficient safety procedures, poor training and faulty equipment can result in costly repercussions to the employee.

California companies are required to carry workers' compensation insurance to cover their employees in case on-the-job injuries or deaths occur. If there is difficulty collecting benefits, it may be necessary to seek sound advice from an experienced workers' compensation lawyer.

Source: SFGate, "State lets Tesoro refinery reopen accident unit," Jaxon Van Derbeken, March 1, 2014

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California refinery unit reopened weeks after accident | Rose, Klein & Marias, LLP