A petroleum engineering expert witness with knowledge of safety management advises on a case involving the leak of Hydrofluoric Acid at a work site in Wyoming. Although the line had been shut down for inspection the previous day, a valve blew and leaked Hydrofluoric Acid, in the form of steam, which penetrated two workmen’s lungs. A lawsuit was filed and a petroleum engineering expert witness was retained to discuss the likelihood of this event occurring if the valve had been properly closed the day before.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- Whose responsibility is it to make sure these valves are shut before removal has begun?
Expert Witness Response E-008209
It is Refinery Operations responsibility to ensure that proper lock out-tag out has been performed, energy controls are in place, proper permitting has been issued, validate that the system has been vented and drained, the atmosphere has been tested and monitored to ensure that a safe work environment exists. For life critical tasks like the shutting of the valves in this case, employees of the refinery share in these responsibilities. I led a fatality investigation on similar case where a person performing maintenance ingested hydrofluoric acid as a result of a leaking valve and stored energy in the system.