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One Killed, Four Injured in Ammunition Plant Explosion

According to a recent news article from the Kansas City Star, one worker was killed and four others were injured when an explosion occurred at an ammunition factory.  The explosion happened around 1 p.m. in a building at the plant where primer is manufactured. In a center fire ammunition casing, there is a metal cap that contains primer powder.  When the hammer or firing pin strikes the priming cap, the small explosion that is created is designed to ignite the main powder charge inside the shell casing.

bulletsAfter the explosion occurred, first responders were immediately called to the factory to make sure there was no fire and to offer assistance to the five workers who were caught in the explosion.  This particular factory is managed by the U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command and is staffed largely by civilian contractors under the supervision of U.S. Army personnel, including enlisted service members and officers.As our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys can explain, in order to quality for workers’ compensation benefits, it is necessary to establish that the worker is an employee within the meaning of the statute and that the worker was injured on the job.  In some cases, the employer, or more likely the employer’s insurance company, will try to argue that the worker was an independent contractor and not actually an employee within the meaning of the statute.

In the case of a government employer, there are often cases where the workers are considered civilian contractors. This is a growing trend, as government agencies do not hire as many people as they used to, and this is supposed to increase exponentially under the current presidential administration.

However, just because somebody is a civilian contractor does not mean they aren’t someone’s employee and thus eligible for workers’ compensation benefits following a serious or even fatal workplace injury.  Let’s first look at the issue of a government contractor.  The company that the U.S. hires to staff an agency or other position is most likely considered an independent contractor.  This means that the company will not be considered an employee, but this should come as no big surprise.  On the other hand, the many people who work for the company and staff the jobs and receive a W2 from the independent contractors are employees.

This means that, while the injured worker is not an employee of the government, and is often called a government contractor, they are not actually a contractor.  In fact, they are an employee of a company that is essentially acting as a staffing agency.  While some typically think of staffing agencies as companies that hire unskilled or semi-skilled workers for short-term projects, these days, people will spend years working in what is often called a government contractor despite them actually being an employee.

In this case, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) immediately began conducting a full investigation into the cause of the explosion.  The agency has the power to issue a violation report and issue fines if any violations are found.  However, it should be noted that there has been no finding of any violations as of this time.

If you or someone you love has been injured a Boston work accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

One killed, four injured in Lake City Army Ammunition Plant explosion in Independence, April 11, 2017, By Gene E. Rice, Robert A. Cronkleton and Donna McGuire

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Report: Three Workers Burned in Natural Gas Explosion, Feb. 18, 2017, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog