The Imperial Sugar dust explosion occurred four years after the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) had conducted a study into the risks presented by dust explosions after three prior severe accidents in 2004. Unfortunately, all the recommendations the CSB made to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had only been partially acted on e.g. the outdated methods and construction materials that added to the severity of the Port Wentworth fire could have been detected. On the other hand the BP Texas City Refinery disaster was the result of gross negligence on the part of its management and workers. Rigot (2007) clearly outlines the Baker Panel’s findings on the incident. BP’s US refineries did not comply with its own internal process safety standards, process safety leadership was lacking and the work environment encouraged procedural noncompliance (7-15). Southwest Industrial Gases and CAI Inc. may have not directly been culpable for their explosions because of the difficulty to judge whether the causes were accidental or intentional. However, the Bastian Plating Company’s poisonous gas incident was unacceptable. The night-shift leader avoided all precautions. Secondly, it is unacceptable for a team leader in a chemical plant to unknowingly create hydrogen cyanide.
With the level of expertise, technology and knowledge in the US, most industrial explosions are preventable. Rigot (2007) cites the major causes of explosion to be latent organizational weaknesses, lack of effective reporting and learning culture within organizations and focus on injury and illness statistics rather than on process safety by both organizations and OHSA. In conclusion, Davis and Hansen (2009) propose that companies need to perform consequence analyses for their facilities to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future ...
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