Industrial accidents and disasters are some of the worst possible work-related accidents. It is not uncommon for there to be serious injuries and fatalities among workers, but also civilians. Typically, the accidents can be traced back to some failure in safety management, maintenance issues, regulatory or design regulation violations, manufacturing or premises defects.
This summer, an aluminum plant explosion left five Georgia workers injured.
Explosion at Bonnell Aluminum
A blast in the early morning hours at the Bonnell Aluminum plant in Newnan, Georgia, located 35 miles southwest of Atlanta, rocked buildings as far as a mile away. The explosion left five employees injured, two of whom needed to be sent to Atlanta Medical Center for treatment and three who were treated at the local hospital. A gaping hole in the plant’s roof and crumpled metal were scattered all around the scene. In addition to the damage caused to the aluminum plant, the explosion also damaged the building of an adjacent business, Sewell Marine, where a fire began in a boat on the lot.
After a few days, executives at the plant moved to reopen for work. According to a statement from the company, the explosion occurred in a casting area which is separate from the rest of the plant. They assured the building had been thoroughly inspected by an engineering firm and it was safe to resume operations in the rest of the plant. As for the casting area, it will remain closed until the cause of the explosion can be determined.
Injuries Associated With Explosions
Explosions are particularly serious workplace accidents because there is a great potential for life-threatening injuries and multiple injuries. How much a worker is injured is usually determined by how close they were to the explosion site. If chemicals, radioactive materials, or biological contaminants were part of the explosion, there’s even further risk of severe injury to any victims.
Worker injuries caused by explosions can be sorted into four different types. The primary blast from the explosion usually leads to body tissue injuries in the ears, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. They are the result of pressure on the organs, which are susceptible to compression from the pressure of the explosion. Flying objects from the explosion that strike workers are considered secondary injuries. Tertiary blast injuries, on the other hand, are from high-energy explosions which through people into the air, causing them to land on the ground with a forceful impact. Finally, quaternary explosion injuries are any other injuries that could result from an explosion, such as being crushed, burns, and inhalation of toxins.
Major Causes of Georgia Industrial Accidents
Industrial accidents have dropped significantly since the establishment of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Nonetheless, fatal work injuries are still more frequent than they should be an several workers lives have been lost in industrial explosions and fires.
In Georgia, numerous manufacturing plants continue to be cited by OSHA for safety violations that put their workers at risk, with everything from failure to provide proper fall protection to faulty safety equipment. Some of the most common causes of industrial accidents, such as the aluminum plant explosion include, but are not limited to:
- Improper supervision – Workplace safety relies heavily on the role played by supervisors and managers, who often times fail to do their jobs when it comes to ensuring worker safety.
- Lack of training – All industrial workplaces should have detailed safety procedures and take the time to properly train all employees on safe use of equipment, maintaining machines, and recognizing defects.
- Defective or poorly maintained machinery – Manufacturing is heavily reliant on large, dangerous machines. When equipment is not in proper working order, either from defects or lack of maintenance/inspections, workers are at risk for severe and fatal injuries.
- Insufficient protective gear – Workers must be provided with necessary protective gear, including hard hats, goggles, gloves, and earplugs. It is also the responsibility of supervisors to ensure workers are using protective gear needed to prevent injuries.
- Hazardous chemicals – Chemicals can damage equipment, cause fires and explosions. It is imperative that companies have policies and procedures for handling, working with, and storing such chemicals safely. Some of the worst industrial disasters can be traced back to improper handling of hazardous materials.
- Repetitive motions – Industrial workers must often repeat the same tasks over and over. These repetitive motions can cause injuries to employees and lead to performance issues. Such injuries can be prevented by making sure equipment is tested to work ergonomically for workers and taking adequate breaks.
Getting Compensation after an Industrial Accident
Nearly all employers in Georgia are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. In the event of an industrial accident, such as an explosion or fire, an injured worker would be able to collect financial compensation for their injuries. Benefits for the worker would include compensation for any medical expenses related to the injury as well as income benefits for time away from work.
Possible Third Party Claims
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, workers may be entitled to more than just workers’ compensation benefits. If a party other than employer was responsible for the accident, there may be a possibility of a third party claim. For instance, an explosion that was caused by a defect in machinery could mean the machine manufacturer was liable for the accident and injured workers could file a claim against the manufacturer. In a third party claim, it is possible to collect compensation for not just lost income and medical expenses, but also less tangible damages like pain and suffering.
Help With Your Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Claim
After a serious work injury, recovery can be difficult for not only the worker, but also their loved ones. Ensuring you get the most out of your workers’ compensation claim is best done by a skilled Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney. At Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Atlanta, our legal team will answer any questions you have regarding a claim and what benefits you are entitled to. Call us today to discuss the specifics of your case and get started on your claim today.