Fireworks Explosion Causes Workplace Fatality

workplace fatality

A June 2014 explosion that resulted in a workplace fatality has resulted in a $1,200 fine against Entertainment Fireworks in Thurston County, Washington. Two other people were injured in the blast with one person airlifted to a medical center in Seattle with burns and trauma.

Explosion Details

On June 18, 2014, employees were loading a truck with fireworks for a show when something ignited a firework and started a fire that caused the explosion. The company was reportedly following regulations that required fireworks to be loaded away from other buildings and explosives, but a small building was destroyed by fire. One worker died at the scene, while another was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center with burns and traumatic injuries. An owner of the facility was transported to another hospital for burns. The workplace fatality was the first for the fireworks company which had been in business since 1997.

Safety Violations

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries discovered three safety violations while investigating the explosion. One was a serious violation which resulted in the $1,200 fine while the other two were minor and did not warrant a fine. The investigation into the workplace fatality found that employees were not following safety regulations related to inserting fuses in shells. The violations included:

  • Unnecessarily multiplying the quantity of pyro materials present
  • Crews were not on the same side of the table, facing the same direction
  • Crews were not working out of one box of shells with only one box present
  • Lack of work table that is longer than it is wide

According to safety officials, crews should sit on the same side of the table facing the same direction so that the table, which may be covered with live shells, can be tipped over and away from workers so they may evacuate in case of an emergency. Other violations involved a lack of monthly safety meetings and lack of training record maintenance.

Workplace Fatality or Accident? Workers’ Compensation May Not be Enough

While most workers injured in workplace accidents are eligible to receive workers’ compensation through their employer to cover medical expenses, lost wages, or funeral expenses in the event of a workplace fatality, many times this compensation is not enough to make an injured worker whole for the full extent of his or her injuries. If a third party besides the employer is responsible for the injury, a worker may have a claim against that third party in addition to workers’ compensation. Often, it is necessary for an experienced workplace accident attorney to assist an injured worker or his family identify other at fault parties.

If you have a loved one who is a workplace accident or fatality, you may have a claim for damages against third parties that go above and beyond a workers’ compensation claim. Contact Attorney Group today to learn what rights you may have under the law.