While you may never think of the potential of injury from an explosion or fire happening while at work, the truth is that explosions and fires can happen anywhere at any time. Certain industries — mining, manufacturing, construction, and petrochemical production — are more likely to have these incidents.
Statistics show that explosions are not an extremely common workplace event; however, when they occur, they are particularly devastating and deadly. In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 123 people had suffered fatal injuries directly from a workplace explosion or fire. An explosion in the workplace can cause severe injuries, and many of these injuries are unfortunately fatal. Some injuries that one might experience from a workplace fire or explosion are severe burns, internal bleeding, lung injuries, and more.
What Does Workers’ Comp Do?
Workers’ compensation is a widely adopted blanket insurance for employees who are injured at their job. Between 1911 and 1948, every state in the country passed some form of workers’ compensation legislation. These laws were designed to provide benefits such as supplementing lost wages and coverage of medical bills to workers injured on the job, regardless of who was at fault for causing that accident or event.
An employee injured on the job is almost always entitled to receive workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance encourages prompt reporting and helps employees take the time they need to recover by supplying them with the money they need to get by while they are out of work.
An injured worker can sue a third party for their part in the accident or event which led to their injury. If the third party is negligent, they can be held liable. Any money gained from the third-party suit would be additional compensation on top of workers’ compensation. Determining third-party liability is not always straightforward but can be done with legal counsel.
High-Risk Industries for Explosions and Fires
Anyone can experience an explosion or fire at their workplace. Industries that face the highest risk for workplace explosions and fires include:
- Construction sites
- Chemical plants
- Mining operations
- Manufacturing plants
- Oil and gas-related sites
These workplaces are at a much higher risk for explosions and fires because they contain materials and equipment that can easily cause such reactions. Some examples of what causes workplace explosions and fires in these industries are:
- Combustible dust (metal dust, biosolids, wood dust, or coal dust).
- Storage tanks for flammable liquids and gasses such as methane tanks.
- ‘Hot’ work activities – such as welding or grinding.
- Work equipment that features combustion engines, such as generators or forklift trucks.
- The presence of hot surfaces like exhaust pipes or ducts.
- The presence of static electricity can cause electrostatic discharges.
- Mechanical sparks from impact or metal striking against concrete or rock.
What Injuries Can Occur from a Workplace Fire or Explosion?
Explosions and fires are devastating events that cause massive structural damage and crushing injuries to the affected people. Some of the most commonly seen injuries in a workplace fire or explosion are:
- Severe burns can leave someone permanently disfigured. Severe burns can also cause nerve damage.
- Amputation of a limb or body part
- Head injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, can negatively impact someone’s cognitive function for a long time or even permanently
- Fractured and broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Bruises, cuts, and abrasions
Is Negligence a Root Cause of Workplace Injuries?
If you’re dealing with the aftermath of a fire or explosion, and the subsequent injuries, you may wonder who’s to blame. Multiple parties can be responsible for the events that lead up to a catastrophe like a fire or explosion in the workplace.
Employers are responsible for implementing, maintaining, and enforcing a safe workplace free of hazards. Your employer may be negligent if they failed to identify hazardous working conditions, which in turn lead to the event. Or, if the employer knew about hazardous working conditions but failed to correct them, this could be considered gross negligence.
What Are Employers Required to Do to Protect Employees from Hazardous Workplaces?
First and foremost, all employers must comply with the standards set by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This compliance means inspecting workplace conditions thoroughly and often to ensure they meet OSHA standards.
Employers are responsible for providing employees with clear training, including sharing operational procedures and hazardous materials training with all employees. Employers are also responsible for ensuring all equipment is in good working order, and employees have access to safe tools. If it can be proven that an employer failed to follow through on standards set in place, they could be held liable for workplace injuries.
Can a Third-Party Manufacturer Be Held Responsible for a Workplace Explosion Resulting in Injury?
In the case of equipment manufacturers, it first needs to be determined whether the manufacturer was at fault. In some cases, third-party manufacturers can be liable for the injury if they manufactured faulty equipment involved in an explosion or fire. However, proper upkeep and equipment inspection are required by the employer, so in these cases, both parties could be held liable.
Have you been Injured?
If you or someone you love has sustained an injury from a workplace fire or explosion, there may be a case for a third-party lawsuit. Traversing the process of a third-party lawsuit is often not easy, but an experienced legal team can help you get the justice you deserve. Book a free consultation with us if you believe you have a case for a third-party lawsuit. Do not wait to get the help you need; our team at Trammell Piazza is experienced in workplace injury lawsuits and can get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.