The blaze that overtook a DHM adhesives factory in Calhoun last September has left at least one worker injured. Though little information has been released about the worker, the injuries seem to have been burn-related and non-life-threatening, yet serious enough to require immediate treatment at a local hospital. Nine other workers were in the building at the time but apparently escaped unscathed.
An investigation into the source of the fire points to a chemical explosion caused by an equipment malfunction. Because of the materials present in the adhesive factory, firefighters had an especially difficult time containing the flames. Schools and some businesses in the area had to be closed down for the day due to the smoke and fumes, and 18 homes had to be evacuated.
Hopefully, the seriously injured worker will heal successfully, and those who seemed unhurt at first will be lucky enough to stay that way, but DHM could well be open to lawsuits from anyone injured by their faulty equipment.
Adhesive Factories Can Be Dangerous Places
Factory work in general is one of the most dangerous professions, due in large part to the use of heavy machinery. Certain types of factory work, however, can also expose workers to hazardous chemicals on a near-constant basis. Adhesive production can involve a range of chemicals that may cause debilitating nerve damage, brain damage, and infertility, as well as posing a risk of explosions and fires, like the one at DHM.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specifically fined DHM five times in the past decade, usually for violations categorized as “serious.” This does not necessarily mean that DHM has only committed these five violations, of course. OSHA is generally much more effective at investigating safety violations than health violations, so it’s common for long-term hazards like chemical fumes to go uncited, their regulations unenforced. Often, only the factory employees themselves know just how many ways their lives and well-being are put at risk on an average workday, and sometimes even they aren’t aware of the dangers that surround them.
All Employers Have a Duty to Provide a Safe Work Environment
Regardless of the inherent dangers of factory work and adhesive production, DHM has the same responsibility as any other company to keep its workers as safe as possible. Any time there’s a reasonable way to make a job safer, such as by providing respirators or installing adequate ventilation, employers must take these steps. If DHM allowed this explosion to happen by letting fumes accumulate or failing to maintain its equipment, then the company is liable for this employee’s injuries.
DHM’s injured worker remains anonymous for now, but if he or she were to reach out to The Stoddard Firm, we would gladly help build the case against DHM. By getting to the bottom of what caused the explosion and what DHM could and should have done to prevent it, we would make sure this worker’s pain and loss are compensated, and that the company is held accountable.
If you or a loved one have suffered a similar accident in an adhesive factory or other industrial workplace, give us a call today.