Although a worker in Yorkshire, England still suffers physically and mentally from a severe chemical burn at an oil refinery, co-workers were able to get him quickly to an emergency shower, and after that, to a hospital for treatment.

The Grimsby Telegraph reports that the accident occurred when 51-year-old Jack Vickers was loading molten sulphur (while wearing a chemical mask and protective clothing). He was attempting to detach the loading lance from a loading arm when his foot went into the open lid and into the tanker.

Skin grafts, panic attacks

"Two blokes heard me screaming and hauled me out and got me into the emergency shower,” said Vickers. He was treated on site, given morphine and rushed to a hospital, where he ultimately underwent skin grafts. Vickers continues to receive treatment from pain and burn specialists and from a psychiatrist, from the accident-related nightmares, panic attacks and sleeplessness he still experiences.

Total Lindsey Oil Refinery was fined for health and safety violations and ordered to pay costs to Vickers. Total has installed a new articulated loading arm on the unit loading area so that a loading lance no longer needs to be attached or detached during loading operations.

Lasting effects

Vickers, a father of two, says he no longer takes his twin daughters to the beach, because he can’t go into the water (due to his injuries) and because his foot is so disfigured. He has been unable to return to work at the refinery since the accident.

HSE inspector Jayne Towey said Vickers’ injuries could have been avoided if Total had identified the dangers associated with attaching and detaching the loading lance and then taken action to reduce those risks.

"Loading molten sulphur is a common task within the refining industry. Total had two other loading units on site with a different system whereby a loading lance does not have to be attached to the loading arm."