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Waukegan Plant Explosion: When WIllful Safety Violations Kill

By Gerald Connor
Waukegan Plant Explosion: When WIllful Safety Violations Kill

Willful violations of federal safety standards in the workplace may have contributed to a fatal explosion that recently occurred in Waukegan. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration aids in ensuring that employers provide their workers with safe and healthful working environments. To this end, the administration develops and enforces the implementation of workplace safety standards.

Fatal Explosion at Silicone Facility was Preventable

Four workers recently lost their lives in an explosion at an Illinois silicone manufacturing company that federal investigators suggest might have been prevented. Based on an investigation conducted after the fatal workplace accident, OSHA cited the company for safety violations, including using liquid propane-powered forklifts in areas with highly volatile liquids and gases in order to transport flammable liquids. The company also received citations for neglecting to make sure the facility’s electrical equipment and installations complied with OSHA standards and had the necessary approval for usage in hazardous areas. Representatives for OSHA suggest that, in the case of the Waukegan plant explosion, the employer failed to take the reasonable and necessary steps to protect workers from suffering serious harm, thereby creating an unsafe work environment.

Common Willful Safety Violations

OSHA cites those safety violations that occur due to purposeful disregard for legal safety requirements by employers as willful safety violations. Violations occurring due to employers acting with plain indifference for the safety of their workers may also fall into this violation-type category. Like the alleged violations in the Waukegan plant explosion, other willful workplace safety violations may include employing improper excavation safety practices, allowing scaffolding safety deficiencies, utilizing incorrect lockout-tagout procedures, and failing to provide appropriate fall protection

Injured Workers Have a Right to Compensation

Injured workers, as well as the families of workers who suffer fatal injuries, have the right to compensation following workplace accidents that involve willful safety violations. When employers bear responsibility for the safety violation, and thus, the resulting accident and injuries, employees may receive benefits through the state’s workers’ compensation program. Paid out by their employers’ insurance carriers, these benefits may include coverage of their associated medical expenses and wage replacement. The dependents of those who suffer fatal occupational injuries may receive monthly pay benefits.

Although workers cannot typically take legal action against their employers for injuries suffered on the job, they may pursue a legal claim against third parties who have responsibility for their occupational accidents or resultant injuries.