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Is refinery where workers were injured trying to hide something?

Because Houston is home to several oil refineries, people here know something about the dangers workers at those facilities face daily.

That’s why our interest was piqued by a story out of California about an oil refinery barring federal investigators from its property after an accident caused injuries to two workers there last month.

The two workers at a Bay Area refinery northeast of San Francisco suffered first- and second-degree burns when a pipe broke and splashed them with sulfuric acid. The two were taken to a hospital and treated and released that day.

Management at Tesoro Corp.'s Golden Eagle Refinery allowed U.S. Chemical Safety Board inspectors onto company grounds initially, but then denied them access to the property or documents, insisting that the injuries to its workers were not serious enough to spur a federal probe.

The Chemical Safety Board has written the company, saying that its refusal to allow access "creates a real concern that Tesoro may be trying to withhold other facts and issues from the agency."

The board has apparently learned that the injured workers were carrying out a routine procedure when the accident happened, but that they were not wearing required face shields.

Seven workers at another facility owned by the parent company died in an explosion at a Washington state refinery in 2010. In that tragedy, federal inspectors “found a multitude of shortcomings in Tesoro's plant safety,” the board said, prompting its interest in examining evidence in this latest accident.

In similar situations, injured workers receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and other damages because of company negligence regarding safety training, adherence to OSHA regulations, defective machinery and other factors. 

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Golden Eagle Refinery chastised by feds after workers hurt," Trapper Byrne, Feb. 28, 2014

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