Beasley Allen lawyers in our Mobile office, recently handled a case involving a paper mill contract worker who suffered from severe burns after he was injured in a workplace explosion and fire. On the day of the accident, the company failed to warn the contractor that a hazardous gas leak had occurred. As the contractor cranked the engine of a forklift, a spark created during the combustion process triggered an explosion and subsequent fire.
The contractor’s injuries left him bedridden and unable to care for himself. Despite numerous medical procedures, he died from a heart attack six months after the accident.
The paper mill failed to follow basic government regulations that could have prevented this tragic death.
Workplace chemicals create employee safety risks, including flammability, irritation, carcinogenicity, and other hazards. To prevent workplace accidents associated with hazardous chemicals, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has implemented regulations broken down by industry and best practices specific to each chemical.
OSHA regulations require employers to train workers on the dangers of workplace chemicals. Following the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) ensures employees are educated on the types of chemicals used at the worksite and protective measures that should be taken when handling dangerous chemicals. HCS also requires companies to document worksite chemicals on a safety data sheet.
OSHA has also provided regulations for controlling chemical exposure. Employers follow steps in a hierarchy similar to the one used in machine design and guarding. These steps include:
- Remove or substitute hazardous chemicals for safer alternatives.
- Apply engineering controls like physical guarding, chemical isolation, and chemical dilution to reduce the exposure risk if elimination or substitution cannot be done.
- Use administrative and work practice controls like rotating job assignments to prevent overexposure.
- Require employees to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), usually chemical protective clothing like gloves, eye protection, and respirators.
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job by hazardous chemicals, Beasley Allen lawyers can help. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.