This past July a series of loud explosions at the Blue Rhino propane tank refilling plant in Tavares, Florida sent eight workers to the hospital, including four with critical injuries. The plant houses about 50,000 20-pound propane cylinders of the kind used in outdoor gas grills. Several propane tanks already loaded on trucks exploded, resulting in a fire that took firefighters three hours to extinguish and caused them to order the evacuation of nearby houses. Fire officials were investigating what caused the blasts but said it appears equipment failure and human error both played a role. Blue Rhino was fined in 2011 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for safety violations related to equipment and tools.
Workers injured on the job have rights
All workers are entitled to a safe working environment. Accidents do happen, especially in industries that deal with highly flammable gas and other materials. A gas explosion can quickly turn deadly or cause injuries to workers in the vicinity including severe burns, inhalation of smoke or toxic materials and fractures and head injuries caused by falling debris. The injured worker is entitled to compensation for injuries sustained in a fire or explosion that was the result of equipment failure or the negligence of another. The process by which the worker or their family obtains compensation depends on the circumstances, such as:
- Workers Compensation – Any employee injured on the job has a claim for workers compensation insurance which includes reimbursement for medical treatment, lost wages and other disability related benefits. The workers compensation claim is usually the employee’s single remedy against an employer and fellow employees who may have caused the accident.
- Third Party Lawsuits – The injured worker may have a viable claim against others who can be held legally responsible. This includes workers for other companies whose negligence caused the accident or the manufacturer of the equipment that failed.
To learn more about your available rights and remedies as a worker injured on the job, it is best to speak with an experienced and knowledgeable Florida personal injury attorney.