Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Worker may have been overcome by methane before falling to death

A Pennsylvania woman is alleging that her husband's death was the result of negligence at a wastewater treatment facility in the Pittsburgh area. She alleges that her husband was cleaning a pit at the treatment facility, that he was then overcome by methane gas, and he then fell over 20 feet to the concrete floor. According to the coroner, the 31-year old man died of blunt force trauma.

If all that the wife of the deceased worker asserts is correct in her wrongful death lawsuit, the employers were essentially indifferent to the safety of its workers. Though this may or may not be true, there are many instances where employers have cut back on needed safety measures in order to save a few dollars - often resulting in deaths or injuries to workers.

Reportedly, the employers knew that gas was likely building up in the pit, but that these companies nevertheless failed to repair a broken gas meter that would have detected the presence of methane. It also was suggested that the employers never had on hand rescue equipment to be used in the event of an emergency.

Other employees that attempted to rescue the 31-year old man were also rendered unconscious due to the gas. Apparently, these same workers fell on top of the deceased man after being overcome by the methane.

It seems that the man's employers had turned off the fresh air system that helped circulate air throughout the pit. It is alleged that the employers understood the dangers to workers in the pit in shutting such a system off, but work proceeded in the pit in any case.

When companies place profits before the welfare of their own workers, such businesses do need to be held accountable. Without wrongful death lawsuits brought by attorneys and clients, knowledge that such unsafe practices continue may never be known to the majority of readers.

Source: Times Online, "Baden woman sues Sewickley, contractors after husband's death," by Jenny Wagner, August 6, 2012

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