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Family of man burned in chemical explosion sues

As the eyes of factory workers from Pennsylvania watch, accidents and explosions at chemical plants have made the headlines across the country. A lack of oversight at some of the chemical plants in the country means that some employees work in very hazardous conditions and are injured on the job.

In one case, the family of a man who died in 2012 after he sustained severe chemical burns while working for one of the most well-known chemical companies in the nation has decided to sue to the company. Over 65 percent of his body was burned when a tank exploded as chemicals and boiling water seared through his clothes and then burned his skin. He was rushed to emergency and remained in the hospital until he succumbed to the burns about a month later.

Before his death, he spoke with attorneys about the lack of safety in place at the facility. He attributed it to costs. They recorded what he said as his sister took her own notes during the interview. The company didn't report the accident to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration until after his death. Because of legal loopholes, they were within the law to wait. One of his supervisors claimed that he had only been burned with hot water. According to Texas law, if a worker accepts worker's compensation payments, they can no longer sue the company. However, if the worker dies, the family can take legal action.

OSHA only has about 2,200 inspectors to oversee the safety of more than 8 million places of employment. With a lack of protection for workers, employees face dangerous conditions at work. If someone is injured on the job, a worker's compensation lawyer might be able to help them pursue legal action.

Source: Houston Press News, "Chemically Burned: Dow Chemical Tries to Avoid Hot Water in Worker", Dianna Wray, June 13, 2013

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