Honeywell Accident Lawyers in Louisiana
Heavy industry is a major economic force in Louisiana, and employs thousands at good wages in our state. While most workers understand the risks they take when working at a factory, there are times when the owners or managers of that factory neglect their duty of care toward the employees and put them needlessly at risk.
The Honeywell Geismar plant in Carville has had at least 11 accidental releases of toxic or flammable chemicals since 2018, according to an investigation by the Advocate. Each of these events leads to danger, injury, and even death for the plant workers, and requires costly clean up and inspections.
The fact that the Honeywell plant has had so many contamination events in such a short time might give you pause. One of these accidents, in October 2021, led to the death of one worker and the injuries of others. What happened, and why do these industrial accidents continue to occur?
What Happened at the Honeywell Geismar Chemical Plant?
On October 21, 2021, a faulty valve gasket in the Honeywell Geismar plant allowed a toxic cloud of hydrogen fluoride to be released into the plant, killing one worker who was working nearby. This isn’t the first time hydrogen fluoride (or hydrofluoric acid) has been leaked in the Honeywell plant either—in August 2019, 652 pounds of hydrogen fluoride leaked inside the same unit that killed the worker in 2021.
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) launched an investigation and determined that the leaks were preventable and due to poor maintenance and missing parts. Since the leak, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has judged the Honeywell plant in violation of four regulations, and fined the company $58,008.
Causes of the Honeywell Chemical Accident
The accidents at the Honeywell plant and other industrial accidents are nearly always due to the same few reasons.
Plants, refineries, and other industrial sites are complex, and require consistent maintenance to stay in working order. When that maintenance is neglected or badly performed, parts can wear down, dirt and grime can gum up machinery, and the risk for accidents becomes higher.
Missing Parts and Equipment
In the 2019 leak at Honeywell, the equipment intended to keep the hydrogen fluoride contained was missing plugs and other support equipment, leading to a flange separating and the leak of the toxic chemical. Sadly, something as simple as a missing part can lead to a deadly chemical leak in industrial settings.
The amount of heavy machinery in manufacturing and refining plants means that, if one of those machines malfunctions somehow, workers can be put at risk for major injuries or even death. Malfunctioning machinery can be caused by improper installation, maintenance, or even a manufacturing defect, so figuring out liability in these cases can be more complex.
Dangers of Toxic Chemicals and Gasses
Toxic chemicals—including hydrogen fluoride, carbon monoxide, and more—can all lead to serious injury or death. Some of the most dangerous industrial chemicals include
- carbon monoxide
- hydrochloric acid
- sulfuric acid
Even though only 3% of total single chemical releases involved one of these five chemicals, they account for 37% of injured people in those incidents, according to the CDC.
The chemicals above range from inert gases that can lead to suffocation (carbon monoxide) to toxic gases that can lead to blistering on the lungs and other soft tissues (chlorine) and caustic chemicals that can disintegrate the body (hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid). Exposure to even a little of any of these can irritate the skin and eyes, make breathing more difficult, or lead to more serious complications down the road.
Common Injuries and Side Effects of the Honeywell Chemical Exposure
The chemical exposure events at Honeywell have involved hydrogen fluoride, which can cause a number of serious side effects:
- Eye, nose, and respiratory tract irritation
- Irregular heartbeat
- Fluid buildup in the lungs (pulmonary edema)
- Severe burns or skin ulcers that might not develop for hours after the exposure
- Severe pain, sometimes without the appearance of burns
- Severe electrolyte problems
Each of these symptoms can be caused by other chemicals as well, and when exposed to hydrogen fluoride, a victim may not experience symptoms for hours. If you think you’ve been exposed to hydrogen fluoride at work, call a doctor immediately.
Injured in the Honeywell Accident? We Can Help.
If you or someone you love was injured in an accident in a Honeywell facility, you could be eligible for financial compensation. The industrial accident lawyers at Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys have decades of experience helping our clients recover the compensation they deserve after being injured in factories and other industrial settings.
We’re dedicated to our clients, and we’ll do everything in our power to help you find the compensation you deserve. We can help you file for unemployment benefits, negotiate with insurance, and even represent you in court. Give our personal injury lawyers a call at 888.501.7888 for a free legal consultation and to begin your path toward healing.
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