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CSB report could aid Chevron employer defense

When a group of employees experience injury from a devastating work accident, they may feel angry and choose to pursue extensive workers' compensation regardless of the employer defense or company's level of responsibility. A recent report released by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board named OSHA as sharing responsibility in a California Chevron refinery fire for failing to fulfill preventative measures. A strong employer defense could help protect a business owner from financial distress.

The incident occurred when a crude oil pipeline failed, releasing flammable vapors. A group of 19 employees were present when the fumes caught fire. In addition to worker injuries, 15,000 people in the surrounding area sought treatment at nearby medical facilities from smoke- and fire-induced illnesses.

Chevron's California refinery is responsible for processing the crude oil into useable products. The report claims that Chevron facilitators did not fulfill recommendations from employed professionals, which could have kept the explosion from occurring. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board also claims that OSHA did not properly enforce safety standards or training at the refinery, which could have helped prevent the accident. An employer defense may highlight the external contributing factors in a refinery accident.

The CSB listed a number of contributing factors that held Chevron partially responsible for the devastating accident. They also believe that OSHA was partially responsible due to their inadequate skill level to oversee refinery safety standards and lack of mandatory prevention documentation. A business owner may seek professional help in developing an employer defense when partial responsibility could rest with a state agency.

Source:, U.S. Chemical Safety Board blasts Chevron, EPA, and CAL/OSHA over refinery fire, No author, Dec. 18, 2013

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