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Explosions and Fires Injuries

Every year, construction workers are injured and killed due to fires and explosions. The National Institute of Safety and Health, NIOSH, reports that between 1992 and 2003 there were 358 explosion deaths in the construction industry, and 80 multiple death incidents. The most common causes of fatal explosion and fire incidents are welding, electrical sparks, heavy equipment striking underground pipelines, open flames/pilot lights, motor vehicle crashes, and cutting/drilling. Over half of recorded incidents occurred in industrial plants with contract employees, demonstrating the need for site specific training.

WISHA, the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act, includes specific regulations designed to reduce the risk of construction site fires. Under WAC 296-155-260, “Fire Protection,” employers must at a minimum take the following steps to protect employees:

  • Develop a fire protection program
  • Provide access to firefighting equipment at all times, and regularly inspect firefighting equipment
  • Provide a water supply of sufficient volume, duration, and pressure to operate firefighting equipment
  • Where underground water mains are to be provided, they must be installed and available for use as soon as practicable during the construction process, and if a building includes a sprinkler system, it must be installed as soon as possible
  • There must be at least one fire extinguisher on every floor and enough fire extinguishers present that workers do not have to go more than 100 feet to retrieve one when needed (but sometime a hose may substitute)
  • Fire walls and exit stairways shall be given construction priority over other jobs
  • Fire alarm systems are required

Similarly, WISHA requires employers to take steps to prevent fires before they begin under WAC 296-155-265. Among other safety precautions, employers must:

  • Exhaust from engine powered equipment must be kept a safe distance from combustible materials
  • No smoking may be allowed near fire hazards
  • Temporary buildings may not block any means of exit
  • Combustible materials must be stored so as to reduce the risk of catching fire, and to minimize the spread of fire internally and to permit convenient access for firefighting

Although explosions and fires are not the most common cause of construction site injuries, the impact of such incidents on worker health and safety can be devastating. Furthermore, an explosion or fire at a worksite tends to impact all workers present, and is likely to give rise to a third party liability claim. For example, where an explosion or fire results from the negligence of one contractor, injured employees of other contractors at the work site are likely entitled to recover from the at fault contractor.

Construction Site Explosion Injuries: Hire Experienced Washington State Attorneys Who Know the Law

Explosions do not happen by accident. By definition an explosion is a sudden and violent event. In many cases, those working nearby have no time to react and protect themselves from injury. Often the physical consequences are unusual and severe. Whether explosions happen on a construction site, a refinery, at work, or at home, the force of the blast can cause the types of injuries more frequently seen on a battlefield than an emergency room. Depending upon whether the explosion involves fire, gas, electricity, chemicals, toxic substances, or heated liquids, victims may be burned or wounded, may have lung or eye injuries, may be poisoned, or may be at risk for future ailments due to exposures to substances that are known to be carcinogenic.

Explosions rarely happen by accident – they usually occur due to someone’s negligence. Explosions may be caused by negligent installation, maintenance, repair, or operation of equipment. Explosions may be caused by the negligent failure to inspect for contain leaks. Explosions may be caused by negligently designed or constructed equipment. Explosions may be caused by the negligent failure to adequately respond to minor electrical and/or fire problems that spread into the vicinity of sensitive equipment, which in turns leads to a much larger problem – an explosion.

Act Quickly so That Investigations Take Place While the Evidence and Memories are Fresh

If you, a friend or a family member has been injured in an explosion, you should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer who knows how to conduct a detailed factual investigation concerning exactly what happened and why. At minimum, this will require making public records requests to obtain the witness statements, narrative reports, investigation memoranda, and citations generated by any governmental entities that were called to the scene of the explosion right after it happened, including but not limited to police agencies, fire departments, and state or federal safety officials charged with enforcing the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act or the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Additionally, an experienced personal injury lawyer will likely retain a consulting expert witness who is qualified to offer advice and opinions concerning the specific type of equipment and substances involved in the explosion. Only then can an experienced personal injury lawyer determine whether a negligence or product liability claim can be brought.

Not Every Lawyer Can Handle an Explosion Injury Case – We Have the Know How

The lawyers at Kraft Davies Olsson PLLC have the experience and know how to conduct a thorough accident investigation, and we have the financial resources and contacts needed to retain and consult with the best forensic experts in the country. Over the course of our long careers as personal injury lawyers, we have represented victims of explosions caused by the following types of equipment and/or substances:

  • Propane stoves and tanks;
  • Anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system and tanks;
  • High voltage electricity transmission devices and lines;
  • Sulfur dioxide traps; and
  • Ammonium nitrate and explosives magazines.
Kraft Davies Olsson PLLC Takes Personal Injury Cases From All Over Washington State

We are a Seattle-based law firm, but we represent injury victims from all over the state, in every county and federal court in Washington. If you hire Kraft Davies Olsson PLLC, you will pay us no fee unless we win financial compensation for you!

Free, No Obligation Consultations are Available to You Now

For a free, no obligation consultation, call Kraft Davies Olsson PLLC today at 206.624.8844. Alternatively, you may email your inquiry to us by clicking here.