Ethanol plants have been sprouting up around the country with many concentrated right here in the heartland of the U.S. The industry’s rapid growth requires special attention to the potential safety risks faced by workers when handling flammable liquids. In businesses that deal with highly flammable liquids, fires are an ever-present threat. The mishandling of flammable liquids such as ethyl alcohol can create a fire resulting in worker death, injury and substantial property damage.
In May of 2016, a fatal fire at a South Dakota ethanol plant injured one worker and killed another as he was welding inside a tank at the plant. The following month, a blast at a Minnesota ethanol plant sent two employees to the hospital. Just weeks ago, a driver of a tanker truck at a western Iowa ethanol plant was critically injured after his truck burst into flames as he was loading the tanker with ethanol. The handling of flammable and explosive liquids can be a hazardous profession in the absence of proper procedures.
Fires can start during the distillation process because of the high concentrations of alcohol being produced. Fuel tank storage areas are vulnerable to lightening strikes, vehicle impacts and other external events, any of which could result in a fiery inferno putting workers at risk. Where flow of the liquid from storage tanks to trucks and railcars occur, static electricity build ups can trigger flash fires. When contractors work around flammable liquids, proper “hot work” procedures when welding or doing similar work must be followed to minimize the risk of starting a fire. Not enforcing strict safety procedures or neglecting to provide thorough training puts workers at serious risk for injury or death.
Workplace injuries from fires and explosions represent significant hardships to companies. Workers’ compensation claims, wrongful death suits and third party liability claims all come into play when workers’ safety is not the number one priority. If you or a family member has been injured at your Iowa workplace, contact the workers’ compensation/personal injury lawyers of Stoltze & Stoltze PLC for help. We have assisted many families in securing the workers’ compensation benefits they need to cover lost wages, medical bills and more. When a third party is liable for your family member’s injury, we hold companies accountable. Call today for a free consultation 515-244-1473.