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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.

Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

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

Thursday, 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

Thursday, 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

Monday, 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

Wednesday, 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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A 66-year-old Man is Killed in a Heavy Equipment Construction Accident Near Poth, Texas

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

(Photo: Labeled for reuse)

Southeast of San Antonio and west of Poth, Texas, a construction worker was killed earlier this month. According to the employer, 66-year-old Salvador Guillen of New Braunfels was struck and killed in a construction accident involving heavy equipment. Guillen had been involved in the repaving work on 541 near FM 2505 when the fatal workplace accident occurred. The employer in this case is a contract company out of New Braunfels, the Dean Word Company. A company spokesperson expressed sorrow over the tragic incident and said Guillen had worked for the company from 1990 to 2008 and came out of retirement to rejoin the workforce in March 2017.

Other agencies at the scene included the Texas Department of Public Safety. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) will be conducting an investigation of the scene. If safety violations are allegedly discovered, the employer will be subject to fines and penalties.

Back in 20006, OSHA reportedly issued a citation to the Dean Word Company for alleged violations related to accident prevention signs and tags. In 2009, OSHA issued a penalty to the employer for alleged violation of standard excavation requirements.

OSHA provides safety procedures for all industries. The purpose is to help to ensure that employers provide workers with a safe workplace environment. Construction is one of the most dangerous industries. There are many common dangers at construction work sites, and working near heavy equipment is among them. When safety measures aren’t taken, it puts lives at risk. It remains to be seen whether negligence was involved in this tragic workplace fatality.

–Guest Contributor

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3 Tower Workers from a Texas Company Die in an Equipment Collapse in Miami Gardens, Florida

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

English: BT Radio Tower

BT Radio Tower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Wednesday, September 27, 2017, a fatal on-the-job accident occurred in Miami Gardens, Florida. Three men working for Tower King II out of Cedar Hill, Texas, were working on a television transmission tower. The piece of equipment they were on collapsed as they were at the top of the 1,000-foot tower. All three men fell to their deaths.

The gin pole is an apparatus that is used when a crane can’t reach high enough for a job that needs to be done. A gin pole was attached to the tower these men were on. According to authorities, the apparatus somehow separated from the tower, causing the three workers to fall. One of the deceased is the son of the man who owns Tower King II.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is conducting an investigation, which is standard after a fatal workplace accident. When workers are injured or die, companies involved in the workplace setting can potentially be held responsible. Employers have a duty to ensure the safety of workers. OSHA provides detailed safety standards for a myriad of potentially risky occupational hazards, and falls are the subject of numerous safety guidelines.

OSHA periodically has campaigns to improve safety in various situations. They have a Fall Prevention Campaign in which statistics are shared. In 2015, there were 350 fatal construction falls, all of which are considered to have been preventable. The 350 deaths were part of a total of 937 construction fatalities that year. Safety guidelines in the OSHA Fall Prevention Campaign include: Plan ahead to get the jobs done correctly; provide the correct equipment; and train everyone to use equipment safely.

–Guest Contributor

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A Construction Contractor in Southeast Austin is Crushed by a Concrete Slab

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

(Photo: Labeled for reuse)

On the morning of Wednesday, August 9, 2017, in Southeast Austin, a construction worker was crushed when a concrete slab fell on him. Emergency crews went to the scene. Firefighters used drills, sledgehammers, and other tools to try to free the man from underneath the 30,000- to 40,000-pound concrete slab. They finally reached the worker, but he was already deceased and was pronounced dead at 10:01 am.

According to Division Chief Palmer Buck of the Austin Fire Department, the preformed concrete panel was going to be used for a parking garage that was being built. It wasn’t known at the time the fatal workplace accident occurred how the worker became trapped underneath the concrete slab.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted an investigation, as it does anytime there is an on-the-job fatality. Conclusions and news of any proposed penalties for alleged safety violations are usually published several months after an OSHA inspection.

According to OSHA statistics, every year, more than 4,500 workers die in the workplace.  The following are a few of many details from the 2015 OSHA report on fatal occupational injuries by industry, event, or exposure:

  • The total number of workplace fatalities in the U.S. in 2015 was 4,836.
  • The total number of fatalities in the construction industry was 937.
  • In the construction of buildings, 175 workers died.
  • Total number of roofing contractors that died was 87.
  • A total of 167 building equipment contractors suffered fatal on-the-job injuries.
  • In the manufacturing industry, 353 workers died.
  • In the utilities industry, 221 people were fatally injured.

Employers have a duty to keep workers safe on the job. OSHA provides detailed safety guidelines on countless workplace activities. Construction is one of the most hazardous industries to work in.

–Guest Contributor

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Two Workplace Fatalities in Texas that Occurred in January 2017

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

(Photo: Labeled for reuse)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is still giving attention to workplace fatalities and conducting investigations. Evidence of these tragic incidents has been more difficult to come by since January 2017, with a noticeable shortage of press releases. Keeping worker safety front and center in order to prevent on-the-job accidents should always be a priority. What better warning can there be than a death at work? Learn about Texas workplace fatalities that have occurred this year, per OSHA’s Fatality Inspection Data.

The following are a few details on two tragic workplace fatalities that took place in Texas in January 2017:

On January 4 in Rotan, a worker died after being crushed between two pieces of machinery. The Rotan Gin Company was inspected following the deadly incident. Further details are that at about 2:30 a.m. on the day of the tragedy, an employee became caught between the frame and the lifting forks of the up-ender machine as he was operating it. He was crushed and killed.

On January 5 in Hutchins, Texas, a worker died after being struck by a truck. BI Grim Trucking Inc. was inspected after the fatal workplace accident. Details of the accident follow: At about 4:30 a.m., an employee plus another driver transported a trailer for an 18-wheeler to another facility. The trailer was situated in its designated place. The employee was at the back of the tractor truck and was un-attaching an air hose as well as pulling the pin from the tractor. The tractor pulled forward and the employee was struck in the head by the tractor truck and died from his injuries.

After OSHA conducts inspections, one of the goals of the organizations is to consider whether new safety standards need to be put in place, to prevent repeats of fatal accidents.

–Guest Contributor

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An On-Duty Texas Police Officer is Struck by an Alleged Drunk Driver

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

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On July 7, 2017, in Fort Worth, Texas, Officer Matt Lesell was on the side of a Texas highway, having pulled over a vehicle at about 3 a.m. As he was walking up to the car, his dash cam video shows that a car crashed into him and the other vehicle. Lesell survived the crash. He can be seen walking away from the crash scene, though hobbled. The officer is hoping to use his experience as a way to highlight the hazards of drunk driving.

Lesell pointed out that Texas has a law called “Slow Down and Move Over.” Motorists are required by law to slow down when they are going to drive past transportation workers and police, fire, and emergency vehicles on the side of the road. This information is found on the website of the Texas Department of Transportation.

Employers have a duty to ensure that workers have a safe workplace environment. Texas laws obviously attempt to make things safer for police officers and those in emergency services. Another related law is that fines in construction zones are doubled, when drivers violate the speed limit or other laws.

A similar incident happened to Houston, Texas, police officers in July. They were investigating a possible incident involving driving while intoxicated (DWI). Another vehicle came along as they were investigating, and the car veered toward them. Firefighters screamed out warnings to the police officers. Both of the police officers ultimately fell over the ledge of the freeway, which was about a 20-foot drop. The officers landed in a grass area; neither had broken bones from falling.

All motorists have a responsibility to keep others safe in roadway work places. Police officers are often put at risk, since their workplace is often the side of a road.

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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Investigation into Deadly Roadway Construction Incident in Amarillo, Texas, Continues

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

English: Afghan construction workers work on a...

English: Afghan construction workers work on a road construction project in Mahmood Rahqi, Afghanistan in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tragedy occurred in a road construction work zone the morning of June 10, 2017. The 16-foot flatbed trailer that was attached to a pickup truck became detached, rolled at a fast pace through a construction site, and crashed into road crew members and paving equipment. Three of the workers died and two workers were injured. Not all details have emerged, because of the pending investigation. For instance, no comments have been made with regard to whether or not the truck driver was following state laws when he hitched the trailer. When asked if safety chains were attached, a spokesperson with the Amarillo Police Department wouldn’t comment about that.

It’s believed that either a pin broke or came loose, causing the trailer to become detached and lose control. The three workers who were killed when the trailer struck the paving equipment were 36-year-old Jorge Noe Catano, 59-year-old Ygnacio Rodriquez, and 63-year-old Julian Zamora. All were pronounced dead at the scene, which was I-40 eastbound east of Whitaker Road. The road construction injuries were suffered by 21-year-old Eddie Erinco and 59-year-old David Huddleston. All of the men were working for J. Lee Milligan, who works with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), doing road work.

Lee Milligan and TxDOT came up with new strategies to improve work site safety in highway construction zones. At the location where the fatal workplace accident occurred, an additional lane on the eastbound side of the highway has been closed. Additional signage was put in place to warn motorists of upcoming road work. In addition, speed limit advisor signs were added.

According to Sonja Gross, TxDOT Spokesperson, each project is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, with the goal of providing the safest environment possible for workers and the traveling public.

–Guest Contributor

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