Despite the strict regulations of the oil and gas industry by the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA), pipeline explosions still happen. Just as recently as February 15, 2017, a pipeline exploded in Texas and shook homes that were 60 miles away. These explosions can cause serious property damage, personal injuries and fatalities. Learn about five common causes of pipeline explosions.
1. Improper installation
Pipelines are complex and powerful structures. They need to be installed carefully, adhering to laws and regulations to be safe and operable. Unfortunately, pipeline companies sometimes cut corners in the installation process and it affects the integrity of the pipeline. For example, poor welding can lead to gas leaks and cause explosions.
2. Lack of maintenance
Many components of pipelines need regular repair and replacement. These components include:
- Gas lines
- Service lines
- Gas mains
These parts can age significantly, and failure to properly maintain them can result in catastrophe. Willful failure or negligence to follow a consistent maintenance schedule often cause explosions.
3. Failures in safety training
Complying with OSHA safety regulations can be complicated, but doing so is crucial. If the pipeline company fails to train employees in the right technical knowledge and language, they could fail to adhere to the regulations. These employees need to be trained in installation, maintenance and coordination with emergency responders.
4. Defective safety equipment
Sometimes, safety equipment is properly installed but is still defective. If the equipment was properly installed but still caused an explosion, it may be the fault of a manufacturer or distributor. While not the fault of the pipeline company, these errors still cause traumatic events.
5. Excavation work
While sometimes necessary and safe, excavation can sometimes damage pipelines or the safety equipment. Excavation can cause dents and punctures that cause gas leaks. This work can be done by the pipeline company, but it is often done by a construction contractor who did not determine the pipeline location.
There are several causes of pipeline explosions, and they are all dangerous. Sometimes an explosion is due to a complete accident or willful human error. Injuries sustained by a pipeline explosion must be taken seriously. If you have been injured because of a pipeline explosion, it is important to contact an attorney to determine your options. There may need to be an investigation of the incident, and you could have a claim. Pipeline explosions are complex both in legal and factual terms. Seek the assistance of an attorney for guidance.