Pennsylvania workers may have heard about an incident in February that drew national attention when a worker for communications company Heartland Midwest LLC inadvertently punctured a gas line at a Missouri restaurant. The resulting explosion killed one worker and injured 15 others. At the time, the worker had been laying fiber-optic cable with a boring machine.
The acting regional administrator of the Kansas City office of the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, in a written statement, called the event a "tragic" accident that came about through "errors on behalf of Heartland Midwest." OSHA recently cited the company, which faces a maximum fine of $161,000.
The two OSHA citations cover errors on the part of the company; one pertained to improper training of its employees in proper safety techniques when on a job site; the other addresses the company's failure to provide adequate safety shoes that protect workers from electrocution. An attorney for Heartland Express LLC expressed in an email sent to CNN that "no one should mistake" the citations for proof of culpability in the explosion that occurred on Feb. 19.
The attorney went on to explain that the citations are merely a starting point and that both sides must present evidence and a case to a judge and jury. He further stated that he felt the evidence was weak because the government has not issued any rules or guidelines regarding underground drilling.
A workers' compensation lawyer could assist injured workers who are facing astronomical expenses due to a major workplace accident such as an explosion. The lawyer may evaluate the results of police and federal investigations to gather evidence of negligent operation and assist injured workers in drafting proper paperwork and preparing a claim.
Source: CNN, "OSHA cites contractor in explosion at Kansas City restaurant", Chelsea J. Carter, August 15, 2013