The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says it recently cited one of the primary utility providing companies in Florida. This followed a May incident in which four workers landed in the hospital after they were exposed to a toxic substance — an incident that likely led to workers’ compensation claims. Anhydrous ammonia is a hazardous gas, and exposure can cause respiratory irritation, skin burns and even suffocation. Investigators determined that the dangerous release of gas was caused by a pipeline that was over pressurized.

OSHA has strict safety regulations to protect workers from anhydrous ammonia. The rules include the need for employees to wear respirators in areas in which the vapors may be present. The citations issued for the safety violations in May are apparently not as severe as expected, but the safety agency says these violations may also play a role in another ongoing investigation.

The other investigation involves a June workplace accident at the same facility in which five employees lost their lives. OSHA says after that incident the company CEO undertook to suspend similar activities until the problem is resolved; however, a union report indicates that the same types of jobs were done in August. OSHA further reports that an incident almost exactly like the one in June occurred in 1997, and proposed actions at that time were later abandoned due to the costs.

Sadly, many Florida workers are exposed to workplace hazards because their employers fail to comply with safety standards. Those who suffer on-the-job injuries may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Injured workers typically receive benefits to cover medical expenses, and the end-of-life expenses of deceased workers are typically covered by death benefits that may be claimed by surviving family members. Financial benefits to make up for lost income usually form part of the benefits, and an experienced Florida attorney is available to help with the claims process.

Source: tampabay.com, “Tampa Electric, contractor fined $43,000 in gas leak“, Kathleen McGrory, Nov. 20, 2017