Lawsuit Filed for Workers Injured during Plant Turnaround

by | Jul 28, 2022 | Civil litigation, Firm News

Spagnoletti Law Firm recently filed suit on behalf of four workers who sustained injuries as a result of chemical exposure during a plant turnaround.  The lawsuit brings claims against Ascend Performance Materials Operations LLC, the owner of the Pensacola, Florida plant where the incident occurred.  The lawsuit alleges:

On the date of the incident, Plaintiffs were performing work on Level 3 of the facility’s Nylon Unit. Plaintiffs were in the process of replacing an elevated valve in that location. As Plaintiffs performed their work, a pipe located one to two feet away began releasing an unknown substance. Plaintiffs did not believe the substance would present a danger, as the pipes were all supposed to be locked out, and the substance appeared initially to look like dirty water. As Plaintiffs continued to perform their work, steam began rising from the floor where the substance had landed. Plaintiffs began to notice a really strong chemical smell coming from the leaking pipe and the air around them. The chemical splashed on some of the Plaintiffs, and all of them were standing in the pooled substance on the floor of the Unit.

The lawsuit alleges all of the owner of the facility was negligent in the following ways:

(a) Failing to properly inspect the Nylon Unit;
(b) Failing to properly maintain the Nylon Unit;
(c) Failing to properly monitor the Nylon Unit;
(d) Failing to properly inspect, maintain, repair and service equipment in the Nylon Unit;
(e) Failing to properly monitor and oversee safety in the workplace, including but not limited to the Nylon Unit;
(f) Failure to properly plan according to standard operating procedures and otherwise follow standard operating procedures;
(g) Failing to properly supervise the work being performed, including but not limited to any work performed in the Nylon Unit;
(h) Failing to properly supervise their employees;
(i) Failing to properly train their employees;
(j) Failing to properly implement adequate safety policies and procedures;
(k) Failing to ensure safety systems in the Nylon Unit were adequate and functional;
(l) Failing to recognize and remediate hazards;
(m) Failing to provide adequate warning to Plaintiff of the dangerous condition(s);
(n) Failing to adequately and properly mitigate harm after the release, including failures in shutting off or stopping the release;
(o) Failing to exercise due care and caution;
(p) Failing to lockout the pipes and/or system of pipes containing the toxic chemical;
(q) Approving work permits in the Nylon Unit despite the risk of harm due to the non-locked out pipes and/or system of pipes;
(r) Failing to warn Plaintiffs regarding their potential exposure to a toxic chemical;
(s) Failing to provide chemical monitoring equipment to Plaintiffs;
(t) Failing to provide necessary equipment and tools required to perform the work safely;
(u) Failing to oversee the work performed by, and operations of, any subsidiary entity involved in the incident or at the facility;
(v) Violating OSHA regulations and standards.

The injured contractors are represented by Spagnoletti Law Firm attorneys Marcus Spagnoletti and Eric J. Rhine.

During a plant turnaround project, one of the primary risks involves the exposure of workers to hazardous chemicals, which can have immediate or long-term health effects. Turnarounds, essential for maintenance, repair, and inspection activities, often necessitate the handling of chemicals that might not be present during normal operations. These can include volatile organic compounds, acids, bases, and other toxic substances. The immediate risks range from chemical burns and inhalation injuries to acute poisoning, depending on the nature and concentration of the chemicals involved. Workers might also be at risk of fire, explosions, or releases of hazardous gases, which are heightened during the shutdown and startup phases of the turnaround when systems are more vulnerable to operational failures.

In the long term, exposure to certain chemicals during a turnaround can lead to chronic health issues such as respiratory diseases, cancers, and neurological disorders. The risk is compounded by the intense nature of turnaround projects, which often require extended work hours in confined spaces or environments where ventilation may be inadequate. Furthermore, the temporary shutdown of normal control systems can lead to increased exposure risks if not properly managed. To mitigate these risks, it’s crucial for project managers to enforce strict safety protocols, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), proper training for all workers on the hazards of the chemicals they will encounter, and the implementation of rigorous emergency response strategies. Ensuring adequate ventilation, continuous monitoring of air quality, and adhering to safety standards can significantly reduce the risk of chemical exposure, protecting the health and safety of the workforce.

Spagnoletti Law Firm has attorneys licensed in Texas, Florida, and New York.  We have handled numerous cases involving complex litigation in both federal and state court across the country.  Our attorneys have extensive experience in litigation of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.  Our attorneys have the skills needed to aggressively represent the families of loved ones or those who have been seriously injured as a result of chemical exposure.

The experienced attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights if you or a loved one was seriously injured or died as a result of an incident during plant turnaround work. Please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or 877-678-5864 to learn more about your legal rights.