fires and explosions: construction accidents and injuries

Fires and Explosions: Construction Accidents and Injuries

Construction zones are dangerous for many different reasons, but one of the biggest reasons you may not have suspected is due to fires and explosions. Each year, we hear about fires or explosions that leave workers injured or killed in the news. For instance, in Bayonne, New Jersey five people were taken to the hospital after an explosion occurred when workers were conducting a “pressure test of a gas line.” The gas line failed while it was being tested with pressurized air, and the police made a determination that after the small explosion, there was no danger of any gas leak or additional risk, but this may not be the case for larger explosions in construction zones each year. In this case, the construction workers were very lucky to have come out alive. The workers were contractors for a construction company in Hackensack and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was notified to look into the incident, as with many workplace accidents resulting in serious injuries.

Why Do Fires and Explosions Occur?

There may be many reasons why these unsightly accidents happen in the workplace. For instance, you may get an undesirable mixture of flammable materials, sparks, and flames that can wield the worst results as they mix. In fact, just welding itself can lead to fires, and has been identified as one of the leading causes. Construction workers on break may be smoking around gas, which could lead to a bad fire or life-threatening explosion. In demolition work, many workers may even find that blasting can be extremely dangerous.

One of the main reasons why these fires occur, however, is because safety measures are not taken. When employees disregard safety precautions, a workplace is always dangerous for the construction workers coming in and out. OSHA has set requirements making it a must to protect workers from fires with fire protection plans posted at every construction site. Along with this, industrial codes require that fire extinguishers and sprinklers are at each worksite. There must always be a way to get into contact with the local fire department as well as plan out escape routes for in case a fire occurs.

So, what is the best way to prevent a serious burn, smoke inhalation event, eye injury, chemical burn, or fall? Take safety rules to heart – follow each and every one in the workplace at all times. Fatalities may occur and do occur in many of these accidents from chemical explosions, fires, pressurized container explosions, and arc flashes or blasts. From just the years 1992 to 2003, a total of 361 fire or explosion deaths involving 313 incidents were reported in the construction industry alone! Chemical explosions brought in most of these deaths, with fires at a close second.

More Necessary Prevention

Here are some safety techniques that could be implemented in more workplaces to prevent these accidents from occurring, injuring or possibly killing employees in their wake:

  • Adequately train all employees, contract and not, in industrial plants
  • Include a hot work permit system to reduce the number of explosions in the workplace due to welding
  • Maintain rim wheel tires according to OSHA 1910.177
  • De-energize live equipment

Have you been injured in a construction accident? At Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, we have the combined experience to get you the compensation you deserve after your construction accident. Fires and explosions in the workplace are always taken seriously. Call us today for more information on what steps you can take.