Second pipeline explosion death highlights importance of workplace safety

posted on:
December 9, 2016

author:
Kendall Dunson

It’s often not until a situation turns bad that safety is brought to the forefront.

Earlier this week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) confirmed the death of a second victim in the Oct. 31 Colonial Pipeline explosion, bringing the fatality count to two.

The explosion occurred while contractors were working to repair a gas leak in a remote location 30 miles south of Birmingham, Ala., that affected Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline’s Line 1, which pushes an estimated 1.3 million gallons of gasoline a day through the state, according to Al.com.

Nine contractors – all but one from L.E. Bell Construction – were working a mile west of the original leak when a worker accidently stuck the line while excavating, according to releases by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s office.

The subsequent explosion left one contractor fatally injured and sent four more to UAB’s burn center. This week we learned the death toll has risen. Additionally, two fires caused by the explosion burned 31 acres of land, and though no residences were close by, they required fire crews to build an earthen dam to contain the flames, according to Al.com.

“Typically we don’t see external damage to a pipeline from ground-level activity, whether it’s human or weather-related, except for some third party striking the pipeline with a piece of excavation equipment,” Brigham McCown, former administrator of the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, told AL.com. “That’s now the leading cause of pipeline spills and accidents.”

A Forbes article about the explosion poses the question, “Do we need fewer pipelines – or more?” The question hints at one of the main concerns associated with oil and gas pipelines: safety. What – if anything – could have been done to prevent this? Was everyone following protocol when this occurred?

As any personal injury attorney knows, accidents happen. Though there is no apparent evidence of wrongdoing in the Colonial Pipeline Explosion at this time, all too often we find that when serious injuries or death occurs on the job, it was tragically preventable. It’s disasters like the explosion that make clear how important safety regulations are for the safety of workers and those who live in the communities in which they work.

If you have any questions about whether a serious work-related injury could qualify for compensation, please contact Kendall Dunson, an attorney in our Personal Injury section, for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. He can be reached at 800-898-2034 or email Kendall.Dunson@beasleyallen.com.

Sources:
Al.com – Second death confirmed
Al.com – First death confirmed
Al.com – Alabama pipeline leak
Governor Bentley’s initial response
Governor Bentley declares State of Emergency
Al.com – Hunting Grounds
Forbes

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