An accident occurred recently at the DuPont plant in La Porte in which deadly gases escaped and killed four workers. For one man, the accident not only killed four of his friends, but also brought back bad memories of his own accident at the factory.
The man started working at DuPont in 1974. He worked there for 30 years in the control room. For 26 years, he was also a commander of the emergency response team. He says that the company mantra was all about safety. However, in 2009 he had a major accident at the factory. He was instructed to go to steam trap number five, which needed repair. He moved close to a steam trap, and stepped on a wooden pallet on the ground near the trap. The ground fell through beneath the pallet, and the man was plunged into a pool of 400 degree water that reached a few inches above his belly button.
Fortunately, he was able to pull himself out and radioed for help. He suffered burns on 55 percent of his body, and about a quarter of the burns were third-degree. He was in a medical coma for two months and received numerous skin grafts. He needed help with his breathing and had to learn to walk again. He was in the hospital for five months. It took three years for his fingers to be able to function again.
It was later discovered that a work order to fix the faulty steam trap had been placed at the factory a year before, but was never completed. The company that designed the pipelines recommended that a safety measure called a French drain be installed at each of the steam traps, but they were only installed at two of the six steam traps. The man sued Du Pont and won $12 million in damages, but the verdict was overturned by an appellate court. The man plans on appealing the case to the state supreme court.
This tragic accident, as well as the accident involving the deadly gases, illustrates how many hidden dangers can lurk in a workplace. In some cases, they may simply be tragic accidents that could not have been predicted nor avoided, but in other cases the employer may have known about the dangers, but ignored them.
If you have been involved in a workplace accident in Houston, call the Houston on-the-job accident attorneys at Kennedy Hodges at 713-489-9493. You can also learn more about us on Twitter.