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Job-related accident at refinery fire injures two, kills a third

Industrial worksites contain inherent dangers to Ohio workers. In recent years, industrial workplace accidents have killed about 4,000 to 5,000 workers in the United States annually, with fires and explosions specifically contributing 53 fatalities in 2009 and 109 in 2010.

In Ohio, 137 industrial workers died in job-related accidents in 2010, the most recent year for which state statistics available. Four of these deaths were from fires or explosions.

Last week a fire at Valero Energy's Memphis, Tennessee, oil refinery sent three workers to the hospital. One worker has since died from his injuries. The deceased was the brother of one of the workers still receiving medical treatment.

This fire occurred while the three men were working at a flare site. Refineries commonly use flares to incinerate industrial waste. It is still unclear what exactly caused the unfortunate event, and the investigation is ongoing. Both Valero Energy and the contractor that employed the three men are reportedly cooperating with authorities.

A common factor in fatal workplace accidents is transportation. Fire and explosion deaths, on the other hand, are the least common, perhaps because they are so preventable. Following proper precautions and keeping equipment in good repair can greatly reduce the likelihood of such accidents.

When an industrial accident injures or kills workers, the employee or surviving family is entitled to workers' compensation benefits. For injuries, benefits cover things such as the cost of medical treatment and loss of wages. If family member is killed, the survivors may receive compensation for lost income and funeral expenses.

However, rules governing workers' compensation can be complex.

Workers' compensation programs sometimes unfairly deny claims, and it can sometimes be difficult to obtain just compensation. It is thus wise to seek legal advice when injured on the job to ensure that one correctly characterizes job-related accidents.

Source: Fox Business, "Valero: Memphis Refinery Contract Worker Injured In Flash Fire Dies," March 12, 2012

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