An orthopedic expert advises on a case involving a four workers who were performing maintenance work on a heater at defendant’s refinery. The vessel operates at about 30 psi and over 1300 °F. While in the process of removing dummy water spray nozzles, hot gases and particulates were ejected that caused burns and other injuries to them.
The heater must be taken down periodically for maintenance. In order to speed up the cooling of this vessel so that maintenance can begin, steam and then water is injected into it through five spray nozzles located on the second floor around the perimeter of the vessel.
Plaintiff alleges that the safety chain on the dummy nozzle that limits the amount it can be retracted was not installed properly by a contractor when the dummy nozzles were inserted into the heater nozzles. This allowed the dummy nozzle to be withdrawn about 12” further than design, which resulted in the dummy nozzle being fully withdrawn from the heater nozzle. This allowed hot and toxic gas and steam to blow out of the heater nozzle.
The plaintiff alleges he suffered numerous injuries, including injury to his shoulder. He sued the contractor who installed the safety chain and the refinery owner alleging they failed to exercise reasonable care.