HOUSTON (Feb. 1, 2011)—Better emergency training and safety procedures might have prevented the death of one worker and the injury of six others in a heat exchanger rupture and ammonia release at Goodyear's Houston plant on June 11, 2008, according to the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.
Although Goodyear's emergency response plans scheduled a plant evacuation drill four times a year, workers told the CSB there had been no drills at the facility for four years before the accident, a case study by the board said. Ammonia vapor and emergency water sprays prevented workers from reaching the emergency alarm pull-boxes, and there were problems with Goodyear's plans for accounting for workers in an emergency, the CSB said.
“Some of the employees who were responsible for accountability were unaware prior to the incident that their jobs could include this task in an emergency,” the study said. “Since the fatally injured employee was a member of the emergency response team, area supervisors did not consider her absence from the muster point unusual.”
The CSB recommended greater vigilance in both conducting emergency response drills and communicating plant conditions between maintenance and operations personnel.
Goodyear officials could not be reached for comment