Quite often it’s not until a situation turns bad that safety is brought to the forefront. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has 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 accidentally stuck the line while excavating. The subsequent explosion left one contractor fatally injured and sent four more to UAB’s burn center. Two fires caused by the explosion burned 31 acres of land, though no residences were close by. Fire crews had to build an earthen dam to contain the flames. Brigham McCown, former administrator of the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, told 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. 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 relates to one of the main concerns associated with oil and gas pipelines: safety. What – if anything – could have been done to prevent this? Were all persons observing protocol when this occurred? Even though there is no evidence of wrongdoing in the Colonial Pipeline Explosion at this time, all too often our lawyers find that when serious injuries or death occurs on the job, the incident was preventable. Disasters like the explosion 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, contact Kendall Dunson, a lawyer in our firm’s Personal Injury and Product Liability Section, for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. He can be reached at 800-898-2034 or email Kendall.Dunson@beasleyallen.com.