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Welcome to Texas Work Injury Law Blog

This website is maintained by the Law Offices of Dean Malone, P.C., a Dallas, Texas law firm representing people across Texas for work injury cases. We have attempted to provide useful information for those harmed by work injuries.

A Contract Worker Dies in a Struck-By Accident at the ExxonMobil Refinery in Beaumont, Texas

Posted on December 7th, 2017

Goodhue Building, Beaumont, Texas. Notice the ...

Goodhue Building, Beaumont, Texas. Notice the penthouse on top. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Friday, December 1, 2017, at Exxon’s Beaumont, Texas, refinery, contract worker Yesenia Espinoza, age 31, was fatally injured. The mother of two daughters, ages 6 and 1, was accidentally struck by a 24-inch pipe while working at the Beaumont ExxonMobil Corp refinery. She was on a project to build a SCANfining unit when the pipe allegedly fell and hit her on the head. According to a spokesperson for ExxonMobil, Espinoza was employed by Echo Maintenance LLC, which routinely does construction work for refineries and chemical plants.

Sources say that in May 2016, there was another incident in which a contract worker died at the same Beaumont refinery after being struck by a pipe.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) recently identified four leading workplace hazards, and struck-by hazards are among them. The other three leading causes of on-the-job fatalities are falls, caught-in or –between hazards, and electrocution. Collectively, all four are the direct causes of 90% of all construction deaths in the U.S. Employers have a responsibility to provide safe workplace environments.

OSHA posted a struck-by online course designed specifically for individuals with safety responsibilities, including:

  • Superintendents
  • Crew Leaders
  • Construction Managers
  • Employers
  • Foreman
  • Construction Workforce

The key benefits and features of the safety course include the following:

  • Understand what employers are required to do to protect workers
  • Know ways to protect yourself from struck-by hazards
  • Contact your employer, safety coordinator, or supervisor with further questions.

As with every post on this website, we are only providing information in this post and do not make any allegation or assertion that anyone acted inappropriately or engaged in misconduct.

–Guest Contributor

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A Marshall, Texas, Company Reaches a Settlement Agreement Regarding a $545,160 Penalty with OSHA, after a Manager’s Death

Posted on November 30th, 2017

This is Maplecroft the main house in the Starr...

This is Maplecroft the main house in the Starr Family State Historic Site in Marshall, Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On November 29, 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a settlement agreement with Marshall Pottery, Inc., of Marshall, Texas. Forty-two-year-old assistant plant manager Arturo Gonzalez died on Easter Sunday morning this year when he was servicing a kiln. It became activated, and he was trapped inside. According to his autopsy report, Gonzalez died of environmental hyperthermia on April 17. OSHA investigators cited the company for 6 willful violations and 21 serious violations.

Sources say that the kiln’s automated system closed the kiln doors behind him unexpectedly and without warning, and it began heating. Emergency personnel were advised at about 6:59 am that Gonzalez was stuck and had possibly died in the kiln.

According to OSHA Area Director Basil Singh in Dallas, Texas, in 2008, the same company was cited for similar violations after another workplace fatality occurred at the plant. Singh said that it is unacceptable for employers to fail to implement confined space and lockout\tagout programs.

An OSHA publication about confined spaces says that there is increased risk of exposure to serious physical injury from dangers such as hazardous atmospheric conditions, engulfment, and entrapment. Limited access, restricted airflow, and confinement are also among the hazardous conditions that don’t typically arise in open workplace settings.

Employers are responsible to implement written programs for confined spaces. Methods of controlling hazards include isolating the permit space, providing barriers, and purging, flushing, making inert, or ventilating the permit space.

–Guest Contributor

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Workers in Austin, Texas, Learn They are Among 200 Potentially Exposed to Asbestos

Posted on November 27th, 2017

Asbestos fibers (Photo: Labeled for reuse)

The NBC affiliate in Austin, Texas, KXAN, conducted an extensive investigation into asbestos exposures. They have released a report alleging that up to 200 people have been exposed to asbestos during demolition activity in city buildings. In a specific incident, more than a dozen employees at a water utilities building were exposed to asbestos during a job in which they pulled down a ceiling and removed furniture. There had been a request for approval of the job, but the work commenced weeks early and without a response. Several of the employees at the site were not provided with proper protective equipment. Understandably, many of them are now in fear regarding their health, having been told that they may have been exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos is a name for six naturally occurring minerals that offer tremendous benefits in the production of numerous commercial products, including building materials. Before it was fully recognized that asbestos is deadly, it was widely used in buildings and in many products across the U.S. Asbestos minerals are fibrous. When handled, the fine asbestos fibers can break apart, become airborne, and enter the lungs. Asbestos causes a number of deadly diseases, including cancer. No level of asbestos exposure is safe.

When old buildings that contain asbestos are going to be torn down, special procedures need to be taken, first to determine whether materials containing asbestos will be disturbed during the project. If there is a possibility of exposure, precautions must be taken to protect workers and anyone else who may be in the area when asbestos is disturbed. Only licensed individuals are allowed to disturb asbestos, and the environment must be contained.

All workers have a right to be protected against workplace injuries and life-threatening disease. Mishandling of asbestos comes with serious penalties, including jail time.

–Guest Contributor

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Two Houston, Texas, Contractors Suffer Electrical Injuries after a Workplace Explosion

Posted on November 15th, 2017

English: Electrical burns may show erythema an...

English: Electrical burns may show erythema and bullae from the heat of arcing current or may be non-descript with severe internal damage between the points of contact and exit of the current. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An explosion occurred in Houston, Texas, on November 10, 2017, as three contractors worked on an electrical breaker at Whitehall hotel in the 1700 block of Smith. One contractor suffered significant injuries, another worker’s hand was injured, and the third escaped injury when the blast occurred. The contractors were underground at the time of the blast.

Employers have a responsibility to ensure safety when electrical work is being done. All employees should be trained and understand the threats involved when working with electricity. The U. S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides employers with safety guidelines designed to prevent workers from becoming injured when performing work involving exposure to electricity.

Resource material from OSHA providing training for workers includes a foundational education on the basics of electricity. For instance, the properties of electricity are that it must complete a circuit and it seeks the easiest and “all” paths to ground.

Electrical accidents can be deadly. Electricity causes three basic types of burns, all of which can be produced at the same time:

  • Electrical burns occur when an electric current flows in the tissues of the body. Such burns can either be skin deep or affect tissues all the way to the muscles and bones. When the electrical shock a person is struck by is high, the body is unable to dissipate the heat, which results in a slow-to-heal electrical burn.
  • Arc burns occur as a result of high temperatures produced by explosions close to the body or electric arcs.
  • Thermal contact burns are usually the result of skin coming into contact with hot surfaces of overheated conduits, electric conductors, or other types of energized equipment.

–Guest Contributor

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Texas Construction Worker Fatalities plus Safety Tips

Posted on November 8th, 2017

Construction worker in San Francisco.

Construction worker in San Francisco. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Among the 50 states, Texas leads in construction work zone fatalities. Between 2003 and 2015, there were 1,324 fatalities in construction work zones, which comes to approximately 102 per year. Texas averaged 13 work zone fatalities each year. Throughout the U.S., new materials and methods are being tested and utilized, to try to reduce the risk of roadway work zone injuries. Among the solutions are steel barricades and “smart safety vests” that can detect when an object is approaching a worker too quickly and alert the worker. It has been discovered that offsite prefabrication of structural components used on overpasses helps to keep workers safer and reduces the impact on traffic.

The leading cause of construction worker fatalities is falls, slips, and trips. The next most dangerous are transportation incidents, contact with equipment or objects, and exposure to harmful environments or substances.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified the “Fatal Four,” which have been the top causes of worker deaths on construction sites. Through OSHA, they are identified as falls, electrocution, struck-by-object, and caught-in/caught-between accidents. The following are construction safety tips for avoiding a deadly workplace accident:

  • When using power tools, wear a face shield, glasses, or goggles. In addition, check to be sure protective guards are in place and in good condition.
  • Never position yourself underneath a suspended load. Make sure heavy machine operators see you. When heavy equipment and vehicles are in use, stay clear.
  • Wear a hard hat at all times when on a construction site, and avoid being in areas where work is being performed above you.
  • Use screen, debris nets, and toeboards to secure materials and tools.
  • Always focus on what you are doing but also be watchful for people carrying objects that block their view.
  • Be familiar with the equipment you use, so that you know where wrap, crush, pinch, pull-in, and sheer points are located.
  • Before doing equipment inspections or repairs, chock the wheels on equipment that could move and shut the equipment down.
  • Don’t wear jewelry at work. Wear close-fitting clothing and keep long hair in a bun, to prevent getting caught in moving machinery.

–Guest Contributor

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