By: Mitch Grissim, Esq., Mitch Grissim & Associates
The U.S. Department of Labor cited DCP Midstream LP and Complete Energy Service Inc. for multiple infractions after two employees died from burns suffered from a gas pipeline fire in Weld County. The men were clearing a blockage in a pipeline when the fire occurred, and the deaths could have been prevented.
These unfortunate accidents happen far too often and can leave honest workers seriously injured, or worse, with costly medical bills. If you’ve been the victim of a workplace accident and you’re not getting the support you’re owed, you need to contact a workers’ compensation lawyer. Learn more about this incident in Colorado and discover how a workers’ compensation lawyer can help with your case.
Fire in a Gas Pipeline
The cause of the fire can be inferred from the citations given by the U.S. Department of Labor. Their Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA issued citations for failing to control potential ignition sources in a work area, failing to use lockout procedures to isolate hazardous energy sources and failing to properly train employees to detect flammable substances like hydrocarbons. With all those citations, these companies are looking at over $79,000 in charges.
OSHA claims that the accident could have been avoided if the companies took necessary measures to prevent the flammable materials and ignition sources from coming into contact with each other. The two companies only have a few days left to either accept the fines or challenge OSHA’s decision. If they go with the latter, they’ll either have to present their case before the independent review commision or request a meeting with the area director of OSHA.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was created to enforce the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. By law, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe working environment for all its employees. OSHA’s job is to enforce those standards for employers all over the country and hold them accountable when they fail to meet those standards.
Under OSHA, business owners are not only required to keep safe working conditions, but they’re also responsible for posting information for employees, keeping records of conditions and reporting incidents to OSHA. If you’re injured at work, for example, your employer has to make a formal report within eight hours.
Enforcing OSHA Rights
As an employee, you have the authority to take action if you believe working conditions to be unsafe. The first thing you should do is make your supervisor aware of the problem. In most cases, that will be enough to remedy the situation. If they don’t listen or don’t correct the problem, however, you’ll have to take additional action to ensure work is safe for you and your coworkers.
Fortunately, you can get a free evaluation of your workplace’s safety standards thanks to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Keep in mind that these health hazard evaluations are designed to spot systemic safety problems rather than immediate dangers. For immediate dangers, you’ll have to take another route if your supervisor isn’t fixing the problem.
To file a complaint, you can go online to the OSHA Worker’s Page or file a written complaint to the OSHA office. Written complaints are more likely to receive attention, so that might be the way to go if the problem is major. By law, OSHA is required to keep your identity secret, so you don’t have to worry about retaliation from your employer. For added security, it’s a good idea to approach your supervisor with your initial complaint with a group of employees.
If you’re the victim of an accident at work, you deserve to have your costs covered by your employer, as it was their responsibility to ensure your workplace was safe. In some cases, your employer may try to get out of paying your workers’ compensation. That’s when you need the help of a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer.
With a good lawyer at your side, you’ll have a much better chance at fighting the tedious process of making appeals. Remember, claims adjusters and lawyers for insurance companies don’t have your best interests in mind. Their goal is to pay out as little money to you as possible, so you need someone in your corner.
In order to make an effective case, you’ll need to have evidence. That’s why it’s so important to document everything immediately after the incident. Make note of the injury, the time, any present witnesses and more. Medical records are the primary source of evidence in these cases, but witness testimony and an employer’s history of poor workplace conditions can also play an important role. Keeping up with all of this yourself is tough without the help of a workers’ compensation lawyer.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Colorado Springs.
An injury at work can have debilitating and long-lasting effects. Even if the injury will fully heal over time, you still have to deal with the initial medical costs, lost wages and more. Make sure you’re getting the coverage you deserve with the help of a workers’ compensation lawyer like those found at Heuser & Heuser. Contact us today for free, and find out what your case is worth.
About The Author
Mitch Grissim is the managing partner of Mitch Grissim & Associates, and is a prominent personal injury lawyer in Nashville, Tennessee. Mitch’s primary areas of practice include auto accidents, semi-truck accidents, slip and fall accidents, wrongful death and nursing home abuse. Mitch is a graduate of the Nashville School of Law and has been practicing personal injury law in Nashville, TN since 1981.