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Pipe welder at wastewater plant dies of injuries from explosion

A New York state wastewater treatment plant explosion killed a welder employed by a subcontractor at the plant and seriously injured a construction company employee. The worker accidents were due to a failure to train welders and others about the dangers of working in confined spaces and with methane gas, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The safety agency also said that M. Hubbard Construction and Joy Process Mechanical had failed to ensure safeguards that could have protected the workers.

An OSHA area director in Syracuse said that employers have a responsibility to provide safeguards and equipment to prevent injury to workers in confined spaces with hazardous atmospheres. The 58-year-old who was killed was welding inside a methane glass dome at the wastewater plant at the time of the explosion. He died after three days in a hospital burn center. The construction company employee suffered burns to his face and arms. He was treated at a Syracuse hospital and released the next day.

Although M. Hubbard Construction contested the seven citations and more than $31,000 in fines proposed against it by OSHA, it also sought a settlement in a letter it sent to the safety agency. OSHA also hit Joy Process Mechanical with three citations and $14,700 in proposed fines. The two companies were given 15 days from the receipt of OSHA's citations to pay them, agree to a settlement with the agency or contest the findings before an independent review board.

Construction site accidents such as the explosion at the wastewater treatment plant are always possible due to the equipment used and the inherent danger of unfinished structures or systems. Workers injured in a machinery accident or electrical accident may be entitled to compensation for damages.

Source: syracuse.com, "OSHA: Serious safety violations led to explosion that killed worker at Canastota astewater plant", Rick Moriarty, February 12, 2014

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