The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has announced that it will be investigating a construction accident, in which one man died after he was struck by a pylon and others were injured, at the Marcus Hook Sunoco refinery.
What Is A Refinery?
A refinery is a large plant where raw materials are turned into other products. There are any number of ways in which someone can be injured while working in a refinery. Accidents typically include exposure to chemicals, explosions, heavy machinery accidents, and slip and falls. Recently, however, the plant began to undergo a large redesign which involves more than 400 construction workers, like the man who was fatally injured.
The Marcus Hook Plant
When the plant first opened in the early 1900’s, it was an oil refinery. Business boomed and the Marcus Hook refinery was viewed as economically safe, its employees convinced it could never go out of business. But as time changed so did the demand for the products created there. Sunoco announced in 2011 that it was closing the plant.
Recently, Sunoco decided to convert the entire facility to one that will refine natural gas products instead of oil. Hundreds of workers were hired to convert the property. But with all of the new construction comes the increased risk of construction accidents.
Construction work is dangerous for a wide variety of reasons. The most common accidents that result in injuries to workers include:
Nearly 45% of all construction workers spend time on scaffolding, both supported and suspended. Scaffolding takes these employees to great heights and if the structure is not properly erected, or if the necessary safety gear isn’t provided, there is a chance they may fall.
Work being done at heights means that supplies need to be brought up to the workers. All it takes is a slight bump or uneven surface to push materials over the side of a ledge or scaffold. If the workers below don’t get out of the way in time they can be crushed and suffer serious head, neck, and back injuries.
Accidents Involving Heavy Machinery
Machinery is used to lift and move heavy objects, demolish existing structures, and build new ones. But these monsters made of metal can be dangerous if the operator isn’t trained in how to use them or if the machine has a defect.
Electricity is everywhere on a construction site. Not only do trained electricians install new wiring, electricity is used to power many of the tools used for the work. Exposed wires that are touched can simply zap the person unlucky enough to be exposed, or they can send electrical currents surging through the body, leaving the victim covered in burns or even stopping the heart.
Refineries are full of chemical tanks and other structures that need to be welded. Welders rely on high heats and molten materials in order to do their jobs, which means that they are at high risk for burns. Additionally, some welding results in workers being exposed to poisonous fumes.
Are Injured Construction Workers Eligible For Workers’ Comp?
Yes. In fact, many of our clients have been injured while working in construction.
The bottom line is, if you were injured at work, you have the right to claim workers’ compensation benefits. This may seem easy enough, but sadly, the insurance industry has made claiming these benefits difficult.
A workers’ compensation attorney can help you find and correctly fill out all of the necessary forms you need in order to begin receiving compensation.
What If My Benefits Were Denied?
If you haven’t contacted a workers’ compensation attorney, do so immediately. There are many ways and stages in which an appeal can be filed in order to have your benefits be reconsidered. However, this means more paperwork and there are very strict deadlines which must be observed. It is possible that you may also have to appear at benefits hearings. You can be sure that the insurance company will send their legal team to the hearing – which is why it is important that you don’t tackle this difficult process alone.
Why Is OSHA Investigating?
The purpose of OSHA is to create and enforce the rules and regulations that keep employees in any industry safe. Many times, when an accident in the workplace occurs and people are seriously injured or fatally wounded, the administration will look into the matter. If they find that the employer has failed to follow their safety standards, they can shut down a work site and fine those responsible.