Harrison County, WV Power Plant Accident Results in Death

An employee of a contractor performing work for FirstEnergy, died following a workplace accident at the Harrison Power Station in Harrison County on March 20, 2013.  The accident occurred around 8:45 a.m., according to the OSHA area director.

The man was an employee of Burnham Industrial Contractors Inc., an insulating company based in Pittsburgh, according to a FirstEnergy spokeswoman.

According to the State Journal, the contracting company, Burnham Industrial, was removing insulation from ductwork in preparation for an upcoming planned maintenance outage when their employee fell through and into the ductwork, according to a March 20 letter from the power station’s director to employees.

“Scaffold planks on the duct structure beams were being used throughout the job to prevent any direct contact with the duct plating,” the letter reads. “At this time, it is not clear how the employee was positioned to have any contact with the duct plating.”

As a personal injury attorney who has had the privilege of helping the families of employees killed or injured while working at power plants, I am always saddened to hear that there is another family whose life has now been forever changed by a tragic death associated with working conditions at a local power plant.

Utility Workers Union of American attorney Mark Brooks shared a little more information.

“We were told that the company (Burnham) had worked on that particularly duct work and moved on to another part of the plant,” Brooks said. “And this worker went back to retrieve some tools and he was later found having fallen through a weak spot in the ductwork.”

He said it’s his understanding that the temperature inside the ductwork, when operating, approaches 300 degrees, and that the man was found by another Burnham employee.

He was unable to say whether it is standard practice to perform work on ductwork while the system is in operation.

FirstEnergy owns the coal-fired power plant.  FirstEnergy, Burnham Industrial, and OSHA are all investigating the cause of the fatality to determine who was at fault for this tragic and untimely death.  Officials will continue to investigate the accident to determine how and why safety measures failed and whether there were any violations of federal safety regulations.

Although employers are immune from common-law negligence claims through Worker’s Compensation laws, families of fatally injured employees have a cause of action against employers who deliberately expose their employees to known unsafe conditions in the workplace.

The insurance companies will be doing everything within their legal power to minimize this claim and avoid paying full compensation. They will hire or use company lawyers to aggressively fight your claim. These types of claims are complicated and can be lost on technical or procedural violations. It is essential for this family to hire an attorney who has a reputation for experience and success in handling wrongful death claims.

What is a Wrongful Death?

Allow us to answer some of your questions:  http://www.robinettelaw.com/Articles/Wrongful-Death-Claims-in-West-Virginia.shtml.

This is the second death at the Harrison Power Station in less than two years. A Rivesville man died at the facility in September 2011 when he was pinned between a machine and a guardrail.  FirstEnergy was found by OSHA to be at fault for this employee’s death.  

Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Injury Lawyers. Free books and downloads for WV accident victims — Call us today: 304-594-1800 for your free copy of Righting the Wrong: WV Serious Injury Guide; Collision Care: WV Auto Injury Guide; or Beside Still Waters: WV Fatal Injury Guide for Families. We are glad to answer your questions.

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Marcellus Shale Oil and Gas Drilling Injuries

Thanks to the development of the Marcellus Shale oil and gas drilling in West Virginia and the hard-working employees and contractors who have made this local explosion of industry possible, West Virginians can look forward to more opportunity and prosperity in the Morgantown, WV and Fairmont, WV area than ever before.

West Virginia workers have had a long-standing tradition of persevering and working hard in spite of dangerous and exhausting conditions.  Just as our coal miners have always faced the potential of industrial accidents, oil and gas drilling workers are also experiencing accidents resulting in serious permanent injuries and wrongful death.

Risk factors for oil and gas workers may include explosion, workplace injuries, truck accidents, serious and catastrophic injuries, exposure to hazardous chemicals, industrial accidents involving heavy tools and complex equipment, contaminated air and water, hazardous driving conditions, fires, burns, malfunctioning equipment, and safety violations.  Driving to and from the drilling site has become a major risk factor:  one-third of all serious accidents and fatalities linked to fracking occur from trucking accidents.

In most cases, a worker who is injured on the job will be able to receive some benefits from a Worker’s Compensation claim.  In West Virginia, if an employer is found to have intentionally placed their employee in harm’s way, resulting in serious injury or death, that employee may qualify to file a claim against the employer’s insurance company.

If you or your loved one has been injured due to negligence or willful violation of safety regulations in the workplace, it is important to act quickly to protect your claim.  Mr. Robinette has handled hundreds of cases involving serious injury and wrongful death and can provide the insight you need right now.  Call Jeff Robinette today for a free evaluation of your case at 304-594-1800.  https://www.robinettelaw.com

 

Don’t Let an Injury Ruin your Holiday Shopping

In a frenzied effort to ratchet up end-of-year profits, major retailers will offer their best sales of the year on Black Friday.  Although the Morgantown, WV area and adjacent regions of Marion, Preston, and Taylor Counties are not heavily populated areas as compared to Pittsburgh, the mixture of customer expectations and limited quantities produce the same risks of injuries that we hear about in larger cities.  Many customers will drive with little sleep, even in bad road conditions to get a good position at the door.bags

Try to minimize possibilities of confrontation by showing courtesy to other shoppers and don’t be perceived as a line-cutter – it will cause resentment and possibly an altercation.  If you happen to be the lucky shopper who gets the last item at an incredible price, either cover (if possible) with other items in your cart or try to avoid that area of the store where others will be looking for the same item.

Even in the midst of all the crowds, excitement, and confusion, retailers have an obligation to create and maintain a safe shopping environment for their employees and customers and have a duty to maintain safe parking lots, sidewalks, stairs, and railings that are clear of water, ice, and obstacles to prevent personal injury.

Parking lots are part of a business owner’s property. Therefore, the owner of the retail store or other business property has a legal obligation to maintain the lot or ramp, including sidewalks and stairwells in a condition that is determined safe for public use. This includes ensuring the lot is properly marked and lighted and the traffic flow has been designed with the public’s safety in mind. If you have been injured in a parking lot accident, either while driving, riding a bike or walking, you may be entitled to seek damages for the cost of medical treatment, lost earnings and pain and suffering resulting from your injuries.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a guide to employers for preventing injuries during the holiday shopping season or at any other time when large crowds gather.    The OSHA guide includes provisions for pre-planning strategies, practicing, and assigning specific workers to implement security, safety, and emergency responses.  The National Retail Federation issued similar warnings and guidelines to retailers that include emergency response directives and having employees practice crowd control safety measures sometime before Black Friday.

Other sound advice includes while shopping, make some trips to the car to put your gifts in the trunk. Lock them up and you can come back and finish your shopping and not have to carry everything around.  After one or two bags, it gets a little cumbersome and strains your back and could affect your balance if the parking lot is even a little slick.

Even though we’re not in a major metropolitan area, there will always be an undesirable element lurking about — at the grocery store, a shopping center, a shopping mall — they’re looking for an opportunity. So, don’t turn your back on anything.  As a consumer, you don’t want to provide thieves that opportunity. Always keep things locked up in the trunk, keep your cell phone close, don’t hang your handbag on the top of a stroller or over the back of your chair in a restaurant or food court. Use good common sense, even at 5:00 a.m. in the morning.

When a place of business does not provide a safe workplace and shopping environment and an employee or customer suffers an accident, injury, retail stores and malls are responsible for medical bills, lost wages and continuing disability, pain, suffering, and inconvenience caused by their carelessness.

If you have been seriously injured while shopping due to someone else’s negligence, call a Morgantown, WV Personal Injury Lawyer —  visit our website today or call us today at 304-594-1800 to get the answers you need.

 

Workplace Accident: UMWA calls UBB Mine Explosion “Industrial Homicide.”

According to the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), Massey Energy Company was guilty of “industrial homicide” for the deaths of 29 miners in Raleigh County, WV on April 5, 2010.  UMWA President Cecil Roberts presented a report at a press conference in Charleston, WV on October 25, 2011 which concluded that Massey created the conditions for a catastrophic work accident when it did not correct known safety violations, intimidated workers, and disregarded state and federal health and safety regulations.  The UMWA was appointed by MSHA to represent the families’ interests in the investigation.

The UMWA report indicates that Massey valued production over workplace safety by insisting that its miners work in areas with poor ventilation, massive buildup of coal dust, inadequate rock dusting, and water sprayers that were ineffective or missing from the area.  Roberts stated that since the company did nothing to prevent the explosion, that company executives should be held responsible for at least negligence which caused the deaths.

For April 5, 2010 Fox News Report on UBB Disaster:    http://youtu.be/yiV3rETtEMw

For more information about workplace injuries and accidents, go to www.robinettelaw.com

Your Workplace Injury – Who is going to pay?

If your employer values cost savings above your safety concerns, you may be facing the devastating choice between placing yourself in harm’s way every day you go to work, or leaving the job that supports you and your family.  No one should be forced to decide between personal safety and food for your family.

Most West Virginians are familiar with Worker’s Compensation Insurance which will cover only a portion of the cost of workplace injuries.  Many do not know, however, that West Virginia has a second avenue for compensation for injured employees.  If your injuries resulted directly from an unsafe conditions of which the employer was aware, a “Deliberate Intent” case can be filed on behalf of the injured employee.

To Prove Deliberate Intent on the part of your employer, you must prove:

  • That a specific unsafe working condition existed in the workplace which presented a high degree of risk and a strong probability of serious injury or death;
  • That the employer had a subjective realization and an appreciation of the existence of such a specific unsafe working condition and of the high degree of risk and the strong probability of serious injury or death presented by the unsafe working condition;
  • That the specific unsafe working condition was a violation of a state or federal safety statute, rule, or regulation, whether cited or not, or of a commonly accepted and well-known safety standard within the industry or business of such employer, which statute, rule, regulation, or standard was specifically applicable to the particular work and working condition involved, as contrasted with a statute, rule, regulation, or standard generally requiring safe workplaces, equipment, or working conditions;
  • That the employer thereafter exposed an employee to such specific unsafe working condition intentionally; and
  • That the employee suffered serious injury or death as a direct and proximate result of such specific unsafe working condition.

W.Va. Code § 23-4-2(c)(2)(ii)

If you are unsure whether or not Deliberate Intent can be proved in your or your loved one’s case, please contact us at www.Robinettelaw.com, or (304)594-1800.

 

Harrison County, WV Power Plant Accident Results in Death

An employee of a contractor performing work for FirstEnergy, died following a workplace accident at the Harrison Power Station in Harrison County on March 20, 2013.  The accident occurred around 8:45 a.m., according to OSHA area director Prentice Cline.

The employee, age 57, was an employee of Burnham Industrial Contractors Inc., an insulating company based in Pittsburgh, according to FirstEnergy spokeswoman Jennifer Young.

According to the State Journal, the contracting company, Burnham Industrial, was removing insulation from ductwork in preparation for an upcoming planned maintenance outage when their employee fell through and into the ductwork, according to a March 20 letter from the power station’s director to employees.

“Scaffold planks on the duct structure beams were being used throughout the job to prevent any direct contact with the duct plating,” the letter reads. “At this time, it is not clear how the employee was positioned to have any contact with the duct plating.”

As a personal injury attorney who has had the privilege of helping the families of employees killed or injured while working at power plants, I am always saddened to hear that there is another family whose life has now been forever changed by a tragic death associated with working conditions at a local power plant.

Utility Workers Union of American attorney Mark Brooks shared a little more information.

“We were told that the company (Burnham) had worked on that particularly ductwork and moved on to another part of the plant,” Brooks said. “And this worker went back to retrieve some tools and he was later found having fallen through a weak spot in the ductwork.”

He said it’s his understanding that the temperature inside the ductwork, when operating, approaches 300 degrees, and that Bergman was found by another Burnham employee.

He was unable to say whether it is standard practice to perform work on ductwork while the system is in operation.

FirstEnergy owns the coal-fired power plant.  FirstEnergy, Burnham Industrial, and OSHA are all investigating the cause of the fatality to determine who was at fault for this tragic and untimely death.  Officials will continue to investigate the accident to determine how and why safety measures failed and whether there were any violations of federal safety regulations.

 Although employers are immune from common-law negligence claims through Worker’s Compensation laws, families of fatally injured employees have a cause of action against employers who deliberately expose their employees to known unsafe conditions in the workplace.

The insurance companies will be doing everything within their legal power to minimize this claim and avoid paying full compensation. They will hire or use company lawyers to aggressively fight your claim. These types of claims are complicated and can be lost on technical or procedural violations. It is essential for this family to hire an attorney who has a reputation of experience and success in handling wrongful death claims.

What is a Wrongful Death?  Allow us to answer some of your questions:  http://www.robinettelaw.com/Articles/Wrongful-Death-Claims-in-West-Virginia.shtml.

This is the second death at Harrison in less than two years. Employee Ned Johnson of Rivesville died at the facility in September 2011 when he was pinned between a machine and a guardrail.  FirstEnergy was found by OSHA to be at fault for Mr. Johnson’s death.  

Update:  Harrison County Power plant found to be at fault for death of Ned Johnson:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a ruling on an accident that killed a man at its Harrison Power Station in Sept. 2011.  OSHA ruled the plant’s owner, FirstEnergy, is at fault in the death of Ned Johnson of Rivesville.

It ruled he died by getting crushed between a moving platform of a Rotary Plow Feeder and a standing guardrail. According to OSHA’s report, FirstEnergy allowed employees to work in an environment where the equipment could cause several fatal injuries.

Original article — Ned Johnson:

Fire officials say a 63-year-old Rivesville man was killed in an accident at the FirstEnergy Harrison Power Station near Lumberport in September of 2011.  Ned Johnson, a bulk handling operations technician, was trapped between a piece of machinery and a guardrail in the coal handling area near 12:30 p.m.  Ned Johnson had worked for FirstEnergy for twenty-five years and for the Harrison Power Station for two years.  This area was closed by the company after the accident.

Although at least three other FirstEnergy employees in Ohio and Pennsylvania have been killed on the job in the last six months, FirstEnergy’s Harrison Power Station is part of a labor department program meant to allow work sites with good safety records to avoid routine Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspections.  This program has been criticized by workplace safety advocates and congressional auditors.  The Harrison Power Station has not been inspected for more than a decade according to the U.S. Department of Labor.  The Harrison Power Plant was last inspected in July of 2000 and cited with two minor violations.

Operators of heavy construction and industrial equipment face some of the most dangerous work conditions in America. When a piece of equipment fails, bringing a machine that can weigh multiple tons or more to an emergency stop is often impossible. Operators behind the wheel or working near the equipment are at the mercy of unstoppable mass and energy.

Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Injury Lawyers. Free books and downloads for WV accident victims — Call us today:  304-594-1800 for your free copy of Righting the Wrong: WV Serious Injury Guide; Collision Care: WV Auto Injury Guide; or Beside Still Waters: WV Fatal Injury Guide for Families. We are glad to answer your questions.

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