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

Pennsylvania plant blames deadly blast on human mistakes

Allegheny County victims of workplace accidents and their families often face several formidable challenges. Injuries caused by fires and explosions can include painful, difficult-to-treat burns. Financial instability touched off by mounting medical bills and a patient's inability to work, temporarily or permanently, adds more stress.

Three million workers were injured in U.S. private industry jobs in 2011, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey. The figure represented more than three injuries for every 100 employees working full time. In 2012, the government agency reported six deaths from Pennsylvania at-work fires and explosions.

A January industrial accident in St. Mary's, Pennsylvania, killed a visiting Mersen USA executive and injured a company production manager. The blast at the graphite and carbon products manufacturer originated in an industrial oven. The results of a recently-released internal probe blamed "human error" for the explosion.

Mersen officials said materials were placed in the oven incorrectly, but the announcement fell short of naming the incompatible materials or faulting individuals. Reports did not update the medical condition or work status of the surviving employee. The Mersen investigation is not the last word on the incident.

Inspectors from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration have yet to determine whether they agree with the company's assessment. This is the second employee death at the plant in two years. Mersen was found to be in violation of federal safety regulations after the operator of a fork lift died in 2012; any subsequent safety violation could increase OSHA's recommended fines.

Many Allegheny County residents don't know where to turn for financial resources following an on-the-job accident. You may need help filing and tracking a disability or workers' compensation claim or advice concerning a lawsuit for premises or product liability. A personal injury attorney helps clients put the financial future in perspective and may introduce legal options that were not considered previously.

Source: The Bradford Era, "Mersen USA: Misplaced materials caused fatal blast" Colin Deppen, Apr. 03, 2014

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