For Missouri and Illinois workers, few things are more terrifying than facing a sudden dangerous situation on the job, especially one that involves fire. One recent propane explosion and fire at a St. Louis trucking facility resulted in injuries to four workers. Two of those employees suffered critical burn injuries as a result of the on-the-job incident. Something that seems even more disturbing in the wake of this accident is the fact that the trucking company that was involved has now received one willful and 11 significant safety and health violations from OSHA.
According to the OSHA investigation of the incident, two employees were in the process of changing a propane tank on forklift located inside a freight trailer at the time. Unfortunately, a loose coupling connection on the propane tank caused fuel to leak and vaporize. That liquid propane then ignited a flash fire, which caused critical burns to both of the forklift operators. Those two workers had only been using propane-powered forklifts for just about a month.
Another worker jumped into action to help extinguish his co-workers’ burning clothes, suffering burns to his own legs as a result. Another forklift operator working in that area also suffered burns in the incident. An OSHA representative based in St. Louis stated that this explosion and fire demonstrates the importance of worker training when it comes to working around flammable fuels, sources that can ignite them, especially in confined spaces. This is just one major safety hazard that such workers can face each and every day.
OSHA investigators reportedly found several other significant issues during their investigation. The most serious of these was apparently the use of trucks that had defective or bypassed safety switches that should have been repaired rather than being used, which resulted in the willful safety violation. Many of the other safety violations leveled against the company included dangers involving propane. OSHA claims that the company did not appropriately evacuate the area after flammable gas was released; failed to require that forklift propane containers be exchanged in an area with sufficient ventilation; failed to train employees on the hazards with extremely flammable gas; along with several other serious violations leading to total proposed fines of $119,000.
These workers will now find themselves struggling to recover from the serious burn injuries they have suffered while performing their job duties. Fortunately, workers’ compensation insurance exists to help such workers recover financially as they recuperate physically. Some employees who have been injured in a propane explosion and fire may find it overwhelming to take the necessary steps to pursue their rightful workers’ compensation benefits. They may benefit from contacting our burn injury law firm at 1-888-586-7041 to find out how our experienced law firm can help them protect and pursue their rights under the law.
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