When most people think of Houston, they immediately think of the oil and gas industry but that is not all that Houston has to offer. As the nation’s fourth largest city, it comes as no surprise that our city also has a thriving and diverse manufacturing trade. From steel, textiles, and digital tech to medical technology, machinery, food, and beverage, the greater Houston area offers incredible opportunities for companies to operate their factories in a city with global access to those markets. There are more than 6,400 manufacturers in 11-county regions that produce more than $80 billion of products each year. These companies employ over 230,000 workers in the Houston area who rely upon factory safety when going to work each day. Unfortunately, many factories in Houston are not safe and devastating accidents occur regularly. The most dangerous factories in Houston present serious work environment hazards that can leave workers injured or even killed.
Dangerous Houston Factories
Over the past few years, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited multiple Houston manufacturing companies after reports of serious workplace accidents. Custom Rubber Products was fined over $530,000 by OSHA after one of its workers had his arm pulled into a machine in November of 2018. The worker’s arm was fractured and he was hospitalized. OSHA’s report states that the machine lacked proper guarding to protect workers. In April of 2019, two workers died and one was injured at Spitzer Industries when a piece of heavy equipment flipped on top of them. At Quala Rail and Specialty, a night-shift worker collapsed while cleaning a chemical tank in December 2019. Two other workers climbed into the tank to help that employee and they also fell ill. When the employees were found, two had passed away. OSHA cited the company for the workplace deaths and for failing to monitor oxygen levels inside the tank. These are just a few examples of the industrial accidents that occur at the most dangerous factories in Houston. All of these accidents could have been prevented if employers had followed proper safety precautions.
Causes of Factory Accidents
Manufacturing companies in Houston have many factories that create a wide variety of products, including cement, steel, food, textiles, clothes, heavy machinery, furniture, oil, and countless other items. The working conditions involved in the production of those items often involve hot warehouses, long hours, and heavy equipment that must be closely monitored. Workers are also constantly being exposed to dangerous chemicals and dust being produced during the manufacturing process. These conditions are a recipe for disaster. There are many types of factory accidents that can take place resulting in injuries including conveyer belt injuries, being crushed by machinery, severed limbs and fingers, inhalation injuries, forklift accident injuries, slip and fall accident injuries, back injuries and more. If an employer is not observing all necessary safety precautions, that can quickly lead to devastating on-the-job accidents at their factory.
There are many ways an employer’s negligence can cause accidents at a manufacturing company’s factory. If a factory owner or operator fails to adequately train and supervise their workers, those workers can engage in dangerous behavior without knowing or come into contact with a dangerous machine or chemical. Employers owe a duty of care to train all workers properly and thoroughly. Employers are also required to provide workers with all necessary safety equipment, including personal protective equipment.
Houston Factory Hazards
OSHA has specific safety regulations in place that employers must follow, including safety procedures like lockout tagout rules and ladder safety training. When an employer fails to abide by these regulations, that amounts to negligence. Common factory hazards include:
- Slips and Falls: Slipping and falling are ever-present dangers in factories. When working at great heights, on ladders, on cranes, or any other raised area, a person is at risk of falling. When working with chemicals, surfaces can become slippery, which presents another fall risk. Most factories recognize the need for protective equipment – including fall protection gear and hard hats – however, slips and falls are one of the leading causes of injuries and death among American workers.
- Heavy Machinery: Working with heavy machinery is incredibly common in Houston factories. Proper training is essential when operating heavy machinery, including forklifts, cranes, and production machinery. This equipment is made to move and manipulate hard materials including wood, metal, and plastic. The effects of this equipment on human flesh can be deadly. Properly guarding machinery keeps workers safe when accompanied by proper training.
- Confined Spaces: Many manufacturing companies require the use of large tanks or vats to make their products. Their factory workers thus often perform their work in environments that run the risk of oxygen depletion. Employers must ensure safety practices are in place when workers are in confined spaces. Suffocation can occur quickly and workers must be able to recognize and react in time to save their own lives.
- Hazardous Materials: Factories that produce a variety of products often require the use of hazardous chemicals on a daily basis. While critical to the manufacturing process, these hazardous chemicals can be extremely dangerous and can cause serious injuries if not handled properly. Workers must be appropriately trained on how and when to use hazardous chemicals. All chemicals should also be properly labeled using MSDS guidelines.
- Uncontrolled Fires: Some parts of the manufacturing process require controlled use of flame. This could be from welding equipment or combustion. When those sources of fire get out of control, and a larger fire occurs, workers are put at serious risk of harm.
Houston Factory Accident Attorneys
All workplaces have hazards, but the manufacturing industry poses a higher risk of injury than many other work environments in Houston. Regardless of the type of job or industry, all employers are required to provide reasonably safe workplaces for their employees. If you were injured in a factory accident, call the Houston manufacturing accident attorneys at Adame Garza today. We can explain your legal options and seek compensation on your behalf.