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California refinery investigated after workplace injuries

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board recently released a report that is the product of an investigation reaching back several years. The Tesoro refinery in California received a critical analysis of its safety procedures following a series of workplace injuries that prompted the investigation. Tesoro spokespeople deny the allegations and insist they are committed to the safety of their employees.

In 2014, four Tesoro employees were burned by exposure to sulfuric acid. Despite the fact that the workers were airlifted to a medical center, the refinery described the incident as minor. The accident launched an investigation by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health along with the CSB. Tesoro apparently fought the investigation, but a month later, two more refinery workers were burned by acid. CSB determined that the injuries were part of a pattern, and that no changes had been made to improve safety following the injuries.

The report identified notable deficiencies in the company's safety standards. For example, Tesoro regularly exposed workers to corrosive chemicals and toxic vapors. They did not provide safety gear for workers or establish acceptable safety standards. The company responded by insisting that the report was inaccurate and that the 2014 incidents had prompted a review of safety protocol in the refinery. They are upgrading equipment and improving safety initiatives.

People in California who suffer workplace injuries are entitled to fair compensation for their pain and missed work. The last thing an injured worker needs is a tussle with insurance companies who are reluctant to pay. After reporting their injury to their employer, the next step many workers take is to contact an attorney who is experienced in dealing with the complexities of workers' compensation.  

Source: Martinez, Ca. Patch, "Officials: Weak Safety Culture Led to Tesoro Acid Injures", Aug. 3, 2016

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