Unfortunately, injury-causing or fatal workplace accidents too often involve an employer that cut safety corners to save time, money, or both, or that otherwise ignored its worker safety and health obligations. When that happens, the workers harmed by the accidents that ensue may have their lives forever changed (or ended) by those injuries. The law says that, when that happens, the workers or their families may be entitled to be compensated for the harm that they suffered. Be sure to contact a Chicago work injury attorney about your situation.
Back in May of 2019, an explosion at a specialty chemical plant rocked the city of Waukegan. The explosion was so massive that it was felt throughout much of Lake County. For five families, though, what they suffered was far worse than just feeling an odd rumble beneath their feet. The explosion killed four workers and very seriously injured a fifth.
And, according to an investigation performed by the Chemical Safety Board, it didn’t have to happen. The Chicago Tribune reported that the interim executive of the board declared the accident to be preventable because more complete safety “management systems could have avoided the incident.”
The employer created the conditions for the accident by ignoring safety
The facility had no hydrogen or flammable gas detectors. Those measures might have prevented these workers’ deaths and injuries because they could have warned workers inside the plant that there was a potential explosion problem inside the facility, according to the report.
In addition, according to a Patch.com report, OSHA investigated and found that there were multiple “willful” violations of federal workplace safety regulations, which led the agency to level $1.6 million in fines. One of those violations included using liquid propane-powered forklifts to move “volatile, flammable” liquids and gases. The combination of those volatile liquids and gases with the propane forklifts created a danger of ignition, according to the report. Specifically, OSHA concluded that by “ignoring safety and health requirements, this employer created an unsafe work environment with deadly consequences.”
The various types of negligence claims that might help you win your case
There are many ways in which entities in an accident like this Waukegan incident potentially could, with the right evidence, be deemed negligent and liable for the harm. Certainly, the OSHA report could be a very important piece, helping to show that there were things that the company could have done and should have done, and that its negligence helped create the conditions leading to the accident.
In the Tribune report, the company indicated that the accident was a result of a “human error,” involving the “mistaken addition of an erroneous ingredient.” Even if your injuries were a result of a co-worker’s mistake, that doesn’t mean that you no longer have any hope of recovering damages.
The law allows injured people to pursue claims against employers for the blunders of their employees. Specifically, Illinois allows claims for negligent hiring, negligent training, and negligent supervision. If the worker who made the mistake was someone who was not really qualified for the job that he was carrying out, proof of that might give you a winning case of negligent hiring. Alternatively, even if the worker wasn’t under-qualified, you still would have the possibility to go after proof that the worker didn’t get the correct training that he needed to avoid making such mistakes or wasn’t receiving the supervision that he should have had, which might have prevented the “mistaken addition of an erroneous ingredient.”
Too many times, forklift accidents and other workplace accidents at manufacturing facilities involve a failure to set up the proper system of safeguards that workers deserve. If that happens to you, and you’re hurt in the ensuing accident, talk to the skilled Chicago attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. Reach out right away to set up a free case evaluation and find out how we can help you seek the compensation that your family needs. Contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.