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Natural Gas Explosion Illustrates Dangers for Utility Line Workers

On November 23, 2012, a natural gas explosion occurred in Springfield Massachusetts, a large city about 90 miles West of Boston. The explosion caused more than 20 injuries. Located in the entertainment district, 42 nearby buildings were damaged. Reports attribute the disaster to a natural gas worker who was responding to a report of a leak; however the gas company involved in the explosion indicated that the employee had followed proper protocol and procedure.

The explosion caused injury to firefighters, police officers, a city employee, gas workers and civilians. Our Boston workers’ compensation lawyers urge utility workers who are injured to understand their legal rights. This gas explosion illustrates the grave dangers that utility line workers face when called to respond to gas leaks. Workers injured in this recent explosion or other natural gas incidents need to be aware that their employers have certain obligations. 121124_springfield_explosion.jpg

The Risks of a Natural Gas Explosion
Natural gas is a highly combustible, flammable gas and workers who are called to respond to gas leaks face significant injury risks. The recent Springfield explosion illustrates clearly the devastation that can occur when there is a natural gas accident. One WDHD local news story reported that the explosion blew out windows within a three-block radius of the explosion, and that the force of the explosion caused irreparable damage to at least three buildings. According to the news article, a witness compared the devastation to the effects of a hurricane.

With such a volatile gas, utility companies need to take great precautions when workers are sent to work on gas lines. The utility company is alleging that precautions were taken and that protocol was followed. It illustrates the fact that an accident with a natural gas line disaster can happen at any time.

How the Accident Happened
On Monday morning, USA Today provided more insight into how the incident occurred. According to Columbia Gas Co., a utility worker had responded to calls of a gas leak. The worker followed older markings on a sidewalk that were supposed to indicate where the gas line was located. He was working an ordinary distance from where the line was supposed to be, based on the markings available, and he used a metal tool intended to locate the source of the leak.

Unfortunately, the markings did not correctly indicate where the gas line was located and the tool accidentally punctured the high-pressure gas pipeline. Because of the puncture, a flood of natural gas built up inside of a building where a strip club was located. The gas came into contact with an ignition source and and the blast occurred. The employee fortunately responded in a timely manner, ordering an evacuation of the building and potentially saving many lives.

The Rights of Workers Injured in a Natural Gas Explosion
This recent Springfield natural gas explosion reminds us that utility workers have a great risk of being in the danger zone of a natural gas explosion. With an aging infrastructure in many cities, these natural gas explosions may become an ever-more present risk.

Utility companies need to take precautions whenever possible to protect their workers and the lives of people living near gas lines. When an accident does occur, employers are responsible to employees for their losses and employees can make workers’ compensation claims to recover damages including full coverage for medical costs arising out of the explosion.

The workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC are here to offer free and confidential consultations to those who have been injured at work. Call 1-877-617-5333 today!

Additional Resources:
Hurricane Sandy Leaves Work Hazards for Massachusetts Employees, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, October 31, 2012
Boston Work Injury Watch: Top 10 Work Accidents in 2012, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, October 24, 2012