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Why is Galveston Bay’s Marathon Petroleum refinery so dangerous?

Some of the most dangerous jobs in Texas are those in the state’s refineries and petrochemical plants. Fires in these facilities, for example, can result in serious and fatal injuries.

Sadly, 2023 hasn’t proven to be an exception. There have been a number of fires this year.

Employee had warned family prior to his death about conditions

For example, this spring, a fire at the Marathon Petroleum refinery in Galveston Bay killed a 55-year-old employee and injured two others. The family of the man who was killed soon announced a lawsuit against the corporate giant for gross negligence, as did one of the injured men, who suffered second- and third-degree burns.

The worker’s death was attributed to burns and smoke inhalation caused by the fire, which reportedly resulted from equipment failure. The three workers were doing preventative maintenance on an Ultraformer to keep it operational until it’s scheduled to be overhauled early in 2024. According to the man’s family, he had been concerned about conditions at the refinery for a long time. In a statement, they said, “He spent years preparing us for…a very real possibility, that working for Marathon would kill him.”

Deaths caused by explosions and electrocution

That refinery has a troubled history, dating back to when it was owned by BP. Back in 2005, 15 workers died and another 180 were injured when an overflowing refinery unit caused an explosion. Earlier this year, a worker there was fatally electrocuted. Marathon is investigating the fatal fire, as is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The company claims it has “invested more than $1 billion on safety and regulatory upgrades to the site” since it purchased the refinery a decade ago.

Seeking compensation in a state that doesn’t require workers’ comp coverage

Even in inherently dangerous jobs and workplaces, employees can still perform their duties safely. They shouldn’t have to warn their families that their job could kill them. When a worker is killed, their family has the right to determine how it happened and if their employer was taking the necessary steps to ensure their safety and to seek justice and compensation in the event that they have grounds to do so.

It’s important to note that Texas is the only state that doesn’t require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, injured workers and surviving family members of those killed can file a civil lawsuit against an employer as well as any other parties (for example, equipment manufacturers) whose negligence caused or contributed to injuries or death in the event that workers’ comp benefits aren’t available through a specific employer and/or circumstances warrant.