Confined space and hazardous gases pose deadly risks to workers in New Jersey and other states. Both these hazards are covered by the safety regulations prescribed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. However, noncompliance is more common than what people might think, and this might have been the case in an accident that caused five people to be injured on the job — two of which did not survive.
Reportedly, the incident occurred at a power plant in a neighboring state where five employees were performing maintenance duties inside a confined area. When they removed a pipe’s elbow joint, dangerous hydrogen sulfide escaped, overwhelming the workers. Three of them managed to escape out of the pit, but two workers, ages 34 and 42, did not survive.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says hydrogen sulfide is a leading cause of occupational fatalities caused by gas nationwide. It is a common gas with a familiar rotten egg smell, but authorities say high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide paralyze the sense of smell and the ability to breathe. For that reason, so many workers who are overcome by this dangerous gas do not survive.
The investigators with OSHA will likely determine whether this incident that caused the deaths of two employees who were injured on the job resulted from safety violations. Families who have lost loved ones in workplace accidents in New Jersey can pursue claims for death benefits from the workers’ compensation insurance system for help with the costs of end-of-life arrangements and lost income. Similarly, injured workers who very fortunate enough to survive may file benefits claims to cover medical expenses and lost wages.
Source: triblive.com, “Hazardous gas blamed in Beaver County power plant deaths“, Renatta Signorini, Aaron Aupperlee, Aug. 30, 2017