Workers sue gas plant’s company and manager over explosion injuries

Lawsuit alleges company deliberately placed workers in unsafe working conditions

Two workers who were injured in a gas plant explosion in Putnam County in 2013 are suing the plant's owner and manager for deliberately placing them in unsafe working conditions, according to the West Virginia Record. The plant, which has since been closed, received numerous citations from OSHA following the explosion. The workers allege that they were ordered to bypass important safety procedures while handling highly flammable gases at the plant.

Explosion leads to two injuries

The May 2013 explosion occurred when the two workers were attempting to drain a number of acetylene cylinders that were overfilled. An explosion occurred during the process in which both men received severe burns. Their lawsuit alleges that they continue to suffer from hearing loss and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the Charleston Gazette.

While the company denies deliberately placing the workers in an unsafe environment, the men allege that they were routinely ordered by the plant's manager to drain the cylinders without using a safety valve that prevents the escape of the highly flammable gas into the atmosphere. An investigation by OSHA after the explosion cited the plant for failure to use the safety valves along with a number of other safety violations. The gas plant company was originally fined $19,000, although that amount was reduced when the company contested.

Unsafe workplaces

This case is a reminder to all workers in West Virginia of the importance of workplace safety. Federal and state laws stipulate that not only must workers be provided a safe work environment, but that they must also be well informed about proper safety procedures and regulations.

Unfortunately, as the above case shows, not all companies necessarily comply with enforcing these important safeguards. In industrial workplaces involving volatile chemicals or dangerous machinery, the consequences of failing to provide a safe workplace can be catastrophic and, in some cases, even fatal.

Options for injured workers

West Virginia's workers' compensation laws provide injured employees with legal avenues to receive the compensation they deserve following a workplace accident. Normally, workers cannot sue employers for workplace injuries and must recover Workers' Compensation benefits; however, if an employer acts with deliberate intent to violate a worker's safety, the injured worker may be able to sue the employer for damages. This type of claim is referred to as a "deliberate intent" case. To obtain recovery in a deliberate intent case, the injured worker must prove that the employer had actual knowledge of the unsafe working condition in addition to four other factors.

Holding employers accountable for creating unsafe working conditions, however, is rarely easy for workers. Injured workers will want the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer when pursuing the compensation they deserve for their injuries. Anybody who has been injured in a workplace accident in West Virginia should contact a personal injury law firm right away to discuss what legal options are available and what sort of compensation can be sought.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:Do I have to pay for hiring experts, depositions, and other expenses of getting my case to trial?

A:At Cyrus & Adkins, we will advance all costs necessary for the development and presentation of your case. In the event of a successful recovery, whether by settlement or verdict, these necessary costs and expenses are reimbursable to our firm.