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Worker's death after being injured at work explained

Following up on our blog post about an explosion in Weld County from June 7 ("Death benefits claim possible following Colorado explosion"), investigators have now reported their findings of the cause. It was a tragic event in which four contract workers were injured at work, and one of them succumbed to his injuries. Although the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have not concluded their investigations, the Mountain View Fire Protection District announced its findings.

On May 25, an explosion and fire occurred at an oil tank battery in Mead. Investigators have now determined that workers were in a trench that was excavated to allow the removal and replacement of a pipe. Reportedly, combustible products built up and were ignited by sparks caused by the activities of pipe cutting and simultaneous welding. In fact, they believe that there were several sources of ignition inside the trench.

While this investigation might have determined the cause of the incident, OSHA inspectors will continue their efforts to determine whether this fatal workplace accident could have been prevented. The compliance with safety regulations at the work site will be evaluated because employers are responsible for the health and safety of employees. Any safety violations might lead to citations and fines.

While such enforcement may benefit the remaining employees of the company, those that were injured at work, and the family of the deceased worker, will have to suffer the consequences of an incident that might have been prevented. Any Colorado workers and families who are similarly situated may pursue financial relief through the workers' compensation insurance program. They can file benefits claims that typically cover medical or end-of-life expenses and a proportionate amount of lost wages.

Source: kdvr.com, "Investigators: Deadly oil tank battery explosion in Mead caused by combustible products buildup", Morgan Maria Pawl, Aug. 11, 2017

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