Houston Man Dies In Refinery After Chemical Exposure And Fall

Posted on Apr 10, 2011
One man is dead and another is seriously injured after an on-the-job accident at a Valero Energy Corporation refinery. According to the Houston Chronicle, the accident took place on March 6 in the millisecond catalytic cracking unit. The family of the worker who was killed has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company.

Killed in the worker accident was 29-year-old Victor Rodriguez of Houston, while 27-year-old Joseph Barr was injured during the incident. An initial investigation of the fatal on-the-job accident has revealed that the two men, who are both employees of the Houston-based company Koch Specialty Plant Services, were working on an elevated piece of equipment in the cracking unit when one of the men smelled hydrogen sulfide, an extremely dangerous and toxic gas.

The men immediately began to evacuate the area, but both quickly passed out from inhaling the gas while descending a ladder in a cage. One man fell and was found dead, while the other was caught and saved by the ladder cage. While the investigation has found that Rodriguez did suffer a head injury, it is unclear whether his death was caused by exposure to the poisonous gas or by the fall that followed.

This is the second death of a refinery contract worker at an area plant in six months. In recent years, refineries have begun hiring more contract workers and fewer full-time employees in order to save on costs – a decision that some say could lead to a higher number of worker injuries and worker fatalities.

One report has noted that this company has had a shocking 41 similar incidents involving the deadly gas hydrogen sulfide in its recent past.

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