Most workplaces do everything they can to keep their workers safe from harm while on the job. Sadly, it is not unheard of for some companies to cut corners on or even deliberately flout safety protocols that can wind up seriously harming employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is still working to determine the cause of a nitrogen leak at a food plant here in Georgia that killed several workers and injured many more. Critics point to a spotty safety record that may leave the plant open to wrongful death litigation in the future.
The exact cause of the nitrogen leak is still under investigation, but authorities say it appears that a nitrogen line ruptured. Liquid nitrogen is sometimes used in food processing plants as a means of refrigeration. A leak may be particularly dangerous as the gas has no odor. The recent leak resulted in the deaths of at least six people, with five dying at the plant and one in the hospital later. Twelve others had to be taken to a local hospital for treatment, with some of them listed in critical condition, requiring hospitalization for at least a few days.
Public records show that this plant has been cited for OSHA violations in the past, including not providing proper safety gear for workers, amputation of fingers and other incidents. It has paid several thousand dollars in fines and may have to pay more once the investigation into this most recent event is complete. The company will have the chance to contest any of OSHA’s findings, which it has done successfully in the past.
A civil claim may be a family’s best recourse
No matter what OSHA determines, the families of the employees who died may decide to pursue legal action of their own. A company that failed to keep workers safe could be held financially responsible if evidence suggests it consciously disregarded employee safety. Worker’s compensation death benefits would also be applicable. Legal recourse may also be possible if a third party was negligent in a manner that caused or contributed to the accident. Filing a wrongful death claim after the death of an employee is an option that an experienced personal injury attorney can explore with Georgia families.