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On February 7, there was a massive explosion at the JCG Feed Mill in Rockmart, Georgia, killing one. Eight people were inside the mill when it exploded. Those injured includ 19-year-old Dallas Holcombe, who was injured trying to rescue co-worker Tyler Morgan. Morgan remains in critical condition. Randy Dodd, James Lentz, and a third unidentified man all remain hospitalized.

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Initial reports indicate the JCG Feed Mill explosion could be heard up to a mile from the plant, indicating that this was a massive explosion. Because this explosion involves a workplace death, OSHA will investigate the cause of the explosion and, more likely than not, issue citations to the controlling employer of the feed mill.

JCG Feed Mill was purchased by Koch Foods in 2013, after the bankruptcy of Cagle’s, Inc. The Feed Mill was used to support Koch Foods poultry operations in Georgia.

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The Flynn Law Firm is pleased to announce the settlement of a Blitz gas can explosion and water heater explosion lawsuit filed in Dougherty County, Georgia which was recently featured in the Fulton County Daily Report.

Gas Can Water Heater Explosion Settlement – FCDR.pdf

On July 1, 2009, Jessica and Jeremiah Fenn leased a home from Jason Lawson and Lawson Investments in Albany, Georgia. The home was a traditional ranch house with no garage. It did have, however, a utility room that housed the washing machine, dryer, and a water heater manufactured by American Water Heater Company in 1998. Because there was no garage to store lawn equipment or gas cans, the Fenns stored those items in the utility room.

On the night of July 24, 2009 the Fenn children, after being put to bed, got up and made their way to the utility room of the home, apparently looking for their mother. There were two 2.5-gallon gas cans manufactured by Blitz U.S.A. stored in the utility room, one of which was knocked over by one of the Fenn children. The Blitz gas cans, unfortunately, were initially equipped with childproof caps that fell off the cans shortly after purchase in 2008. The AWHC water heater in the utility room was equipped with a defective “open pilot/open burner” system, which, because the water heater was not elevated (in violation of local building codes), was mounted within the device at floor level. Once the gas can without any cap on the spout was tipped, an explosive vapor/air mixture formed in the utility room which was ignited by the pilot and/or burner on the AWHC water heater. This lead to a low order explosion, severely burning the Fenn children
Prior to 2002, water-heaters used an “open pilot, open burner” design which left the pilot and burner of the device exposed to flammable vapors. After 2002, the water heater industry changed its design to include a flame arrester covering its pilot and burner to prevent the explosion of flammable vapors. In order for a gas-fired “open pilot, open burner” water heater to actually heat the water in its tank, the water heater must take in air from its base, often two inches from the ground, and pass the air directly over a pilot flame. Flammable liquids (such as gas) give off flammable vapors that are generally heavier than air. These vapors sink to the ground and when the water heater is functioning normally, will be sucked in by the water heater when it draws in combustion air. The vapors are then ignited, and the resulting fire can cause substantial burn injuries to those in the vicinity of the water heater.
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Recently a sub-contractor working at BWI near Baltimore, MD was killed in a construction accident. The worker was injured by a concrete paver vehicle. Although alive just after the accident, he died due to his work injuries at the hospital.

Maryland Transportation Authority police are investigating the incident. The worker was employed by a subcontractor, Hi-Way Paving Inc. The company is working on a concrete paving project near the south side of the airport.

Workplace injuries and deaths are generally preventable with routine safety programs and basic hazard communication. OSHA must investigate any work injury event involving a death or the hospitalization of three or more workers. On a complex construction project,

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A fine of more than $1 million was recently delivered to a mine owner following two fatalities.

The Department of Labor has fined operators of an Ouray, Colorado silver mine $1.077 million for repeated, blatant safety violations that led to the “entirely preventable” deaths of two workers last year.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration’s report found that, ignoring regulations and repeated warnings, the operators of the Revenue Mine disposed of deteriorating explosives by detonating them inside of the mine, filling it with toxic gas. They did not seal off or ventilate the area and ignored complaints from miners who fell ill from the fumes.

Two miners on that evening shift became ill while working in that area and retreated from the mine. A third miner also returned to the surface after encountering what he called “bad air.”

Despite complaints to mine management from the three miners, no action was taken to identify, correct or report the hazardous condition in the drift. When explosives are detonated, carbon monoxide is released into the atmosphere. It is a toxic gas that can pose a serious risk to workers in an underground mine.

The following morning, two members of the day-shift crew traveled into the drift to observe the results of the shots fired on the previous day.

One of the miners, Nick Cappanno, who had one month of mining experience, was overcome by toxic levels of carbon monoxide, while the other miner was able to retreat from the area. In an attempt to rescue Cappanno, the shift boss, Rick Williams, entered the drift and was also overcome by carbon monoxide.

MSHA investigators determined that the fatal accident occurred due to management’s failure to dispose of deteriorated explosives in a safe manner. The explosives were detonated in an area of the mine that was not ventilated, and no post-blast examination was conducted.

Management also failed to take any action when two miners went into the unventilated Monogahela Drift and reported feeling ill, and it failed to withdraw miners as a result of the imminent danger created by the blast. Management did not establish an accurate and viable ventilation plan, barricade or seal un ventilated areas, or properly train new employees on mine health and safety procedures.

As a result of its investigation, MSHA issued eight unwarrantable failure orders, including six designated as flagrant workplace safety violations. A flagrant violation is defined as “a reckless or repeated failure to make reasonable efforts to eliminate a known violation of a mandatory safety and health standard that substantially and proximate caused, or reasonably could have been expected to cause, death or serious bodily injury.”
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BHO explosions, which occur during the manufacturing of butane hash oil, are occurring frequently in states with legalized cannabis. BHO involves forcing butane through filtered tube –often PVC pipe or specially made glass tubes sold for the purpose of producing butane hash oil. The liquid is captured in a container and heated, in order to “burn off” the butane.

During this process, butane vapors escape and are present in explosive levels. Unbeknownst to most consumers, the butane vapors are highly explosive, and making butane hash oil creates a substantial risk of injury because of the presence of flammable vapors. Once the vapors hit any flame–such as a spark, water heater pilot, furnace, or cigarette—a large explosion will occur.
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One person was killed, and another suffered severe burn injuries, in a recent gas explosion . Jason McCorkle was killed while working on his brother’s property after breaching a gas line owned by Dixie Pipeline. The gas line was a 30 year-old propane line. A piece of construction equipment breached the line, causing the gas leak. Mr. McCorkle’s father was taken to the Joe Still Burn Center for his burn injuries.

Often, sub-surface (below ground) propane lines and gas lines are either not marked or improperly marked, such that those working around the lines cannot accurately determine where, exactly, the lines are buried or how large the line is. As a result, Georgia workers are left exposed to injury or even death.

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Refinery.jpgMarathaon Oil’s Meraux Louisiana Refinery was cited for workplace hazards by OSHA recently. These hazardous conditions, if allowed to continue, would have lead to work injury, Workers Comp claims, and serious personal injury or wrongful death. A Louisiana Refinery injury was likely prevented by OSHA’s enforcement and action.
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Despite not having paid one dime to any refinery explosion victim injured in the Imperial Sugar explosion, the Imperial Sugar Company has announced that it has received $345 Million from its own insurers to cover the cost of rebuilding the Port Wentworth refinery and business interruption caused by the February 7, 2008 explosion.

According to the Chemical Safety Board, the Imperial explosion was entirely preventable and caused by the dangerous accumulation of combustible sugar dust at the Port Wentworth facility. Litigation against certain Imperial entities on behalf of the workers who suffered burn injuries and Georgia work injury in the explosion continues. The Flynn Law Firm, a workplace accident and Atlanta Worker Compensation law firm, represents several victims of the Imperial explosion in third-party liability lawsuits.