Workers in Texas and other states risk their lives each day. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides safety standards and guidelines for all industries. However, many employers fail to recognize potential unanticipated incidents. That is where appropriate PPE is crucial as a last line of defense to prevent catastrophic or fatal workplace injuries.
Flash fires cause many unanticipated hazards in various industries to workers of all skill levels and ages. The following incidents occurred during the past 10 years, all claiming the lives of workers without the necessary PPE:
- Two oil and gas workers did maintenance work in a trench when crude oil vapors ignited and caused a flash fire. They did not wear flame-resistant clothing, and both workers suffered severe injuries, but only one survived.
- At a surface coal mine, a 38-year-old worker without the necessary PPE died in an unanticipated flash fire that caused an explosion. It happened while he was refueling a highwall drill.
- A coal mine worker was above ground, standing on the metal grating that covered the mineshaft. A methane gas explosion occurred 753 feet down the shaft but traveled up the shaft, killing the 58-year-old worker who was not protected by fire-resistant clothing.
- Three vehicle technicians died while they did vehicle maintenance in a confined lube bay, measuring 30 feet x 30 feet. One of several plugged-in electrical cords ignited highly flammable vapors, and the resulting flash fire overwhelmed the unprotected workers in the confined space.
Although OSHA typically fines employers in such cases, the surviving loved ones of the deceased workers have to cope with the financial consequences that come with such tragedies. Fortunately, they might be eligible for death benefits through the state’s workers’ compensation system. If not, they could explore the possibility of filing a wrongful death lawsuit in a civil court.