Fires and explosions claimed the lives of 121 workers and injured thousands more in 2015. OSHA estimates that on average over 5,000 workers experience serious injuries from fires or explosions each year. The majority of these injuries and fatalities are caused when an employer or manager fails to adhere to proper protocols regarding the storage and handling of potentially explosive substances.
Causes of Workplace ExplosionsMany workplace explosions occur following a series of errors or oversights rather than stemming from a single cause. For example, lax safety procedures might cause a volatile chemical to be stored in close proximity to a machine that produces open flames; when a worker turns the machine on, those flames then ignite the chemical.
Other common causes of workplace explosions also include the discharge of static electricity and faulty electrical wiring. These can ignite fuel or chemicals as well as dust from coal, wood, or grain.
Workers at Greatest Risk for Injury or Death
People who work in chemical plants, manufacturing plants, mining facilities, construction jobs, or in oil and natural gas production are at greatest risk for being injured or killed in a fire or explosion. These positions require workers to be in close proximity to combustible materials.
Common Injuries Victims Experience
Workers caught in an explosion can suffer serious burn injuries that can affect any part of the body exposed to the blast. Burn injuries can cause permanent scarring, disfigurement, and loss of sensation. Moreover, severe burn injuries seriously weaken the body's immune system, which can make the victim prone to serious, potentially life-threatening infections.
Other common injuries include:
- Puncture wounds caused by flying shrapnel
- Broken bones and fractures
- Internal bleeding
- Head trauma including concussions, contusions, and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Damage to senses including hearing, sight, and sound
- Damage to the respiratory system including lung scarring
Employer Liability in Explosions
Employers are responsible for ensuring that safety standards and protocols are adhered to at all times. Employers who fail to monitor workplace safety and provide workers with the proper training and protective equipment can be held liable for the injuries and fatalities caused by their lack of oversight.
Woodstock worker comp lawyers can help workers injured in explosions or their surviving family members recover compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, impact on quality of life, and loss of companionship an explosion can cause.