Electrical Arc Furnace Fire Kills One

Electrical Arc Furnace Fire Kills One: Carbide Industries Should Have Known About and Fixed Danger According to Reports

It turns that an out that a huge explosion at a Carbide Industries plant in Louisville, KY, that killed two workers and injured two others was a long time coming. According to those who investigated the incident, the company should have known about it, and the on the job accident could and should have been prevented, because it wasn’t the first time such a thing had happened.

According to a U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) report on the incident, the explosion of a large electric arc furnace resulted in part because Carbide Industries repeatedly put off what the CSB describes as “crucial maintenance” on the furnace for a long time. The report also faulted the company for their failure to investigate similar smaller explosions over a number of years.

In the report, the CSB referred to the situation as an example of “normalization of deviance.” In this case, the furnace had apparently become overpressurized on a fairly regular basis, to the point that it had  caused a number smaller explosive events over the years. The events had become so commonplace that workers who should have seen them as being abnormal instead came to believe they were part of the normal operation of the furnace.  Often, after each event, the company would just reinforce the sections that blew out, rather than investigate the source of the pressure and alleviate that.

Investigators noted serious erosion in the cover, to the point that hot liquid from the furnace had melted holes in it. But instead of replacing the cover, company officials demanded that workers repair the cover instead. Overall, they had issued 26 work orders just in the five months leading up to the explosion. While the company finally gave up and planned to replace the cover, they continued to use the furnace, until the explosion, which occurred approximately two months before the planned replacement.

The tragedy of this accident is that the company should have known there was a problem, and chose to continue running the furnace until it finally failed and blew up. They did so despite the numerous safety incidents that occurred over many years, without investigating why the problems kept happening in the first place. If they had investigated, they would have known about the problems this particular furnace had, going back to 1965. The CSB said the company should have had processes in place to analyze hazards, investigate incidents and test mechanical integrity.

Workers and their loved ones should understand that employers have a responsibility to provide “safe and healthful working conditions,” for their employees.  If an employer fails to provide such a work environment, it may be held liable for injuries sustained by its employees on the job site.  If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an industrial accident, and you believe an employer may have been negligent, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries so call the Texas Industrial Fire Lawyer at Hill Law Firm today.

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