California plant implosion injures workers and spectators

Posted on in Workplace Accidents

Bakersfield, California witnessed the implosion of a 1940s power plant recently but the widespread injuries from the implosion have two state agencies investigating the incident. The workplace accident left one man critically injured and hurt many other employees.

Both Cal-OSHA and California Public Utilities Commission opened investigations. The commission supervises the Pacific Gas and Electric co., which owns the power plant at issue. Cal-OSHA ensures compliance with public and workplace safety laws.

As with many of these larger demolition jobs, there may be an issue of multiple employers. Jobs, or portions of jobs, are often contracted out and Cal-OSHA plans to focus on one company at a time in order to determine what happened and who might be at fault.

People in the demolition industry, who understand these types of power equipment accidents and injuries seem to think that many factors led to the botched implosion. The blast blew shrapnel over 1,000 feet from the plant, hitting spectators and nearby vehicles. It's possible that the wrong kind of explosive was used, or that there was simply too much explosive. The structures built to contain the shrapnel may not have been up to par.

Usually in cases like this, it's a combination of negligence and a perfect set of circumstances that lead to an accident. Industries usually have accepted standard standards of practice for performing certain jobs and tasks. The demolition industry is no different and for implosions, shrapnel is usually contained by wrapping buildings in a durable fabric. This fabric is then covered by a strong, metal fence-like material. Add one more layer of fabric and a plywood barrier and the crew is set to go.

If any crew or company in this case failed to abide by the regularly accepted standard of practice, there may be a case for a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party or parties. The victims in this case may have big medical bills to pay as a result of the shrapnel-related injuries. They may have missed work while recovering and need money to cover lost wages. All of these losses can potentially be addressed through a civil lawsuit.

Source: The Bakersfield California, "State agencies open investigations of implosion accident," Autumn Parry, Aug. 5, 2013

Tagged in: Workplace accident
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