Two Pennsylvania workers died recently while conducting a dye test on the Aldan sewer system. The cause of death has yet to be determined, however authorities believe underground gas fumes could be to blame. The workers, both in their twenties, were pulled out of a 30-foot manhole but, tragically, rescuers were unable to revive the men. The case is currently under investigation by the Delaware County Medical Examiner’s Office and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Causes of Underground Work-Related Accidents
There are various causes of underground worker accidents, many of which stem from a breakdown in safety practices. Under the General Duty clause of the OSH Act, employers must provide workers with safe and healthful workplaces. However, when there is a failure to maintain equipment and machinery, manage atmospheric conditions, or communicate regarding utility installations, workers can become seriously injured. Some of the most common factors in underground work accidents include:
- Electricity – When work is to be done around underground utility lines or pipes, employers must get the exact location of utility installations from the utility company before beginning work.
- Falling equipment or material – According to OSHA, equipment and materials should be kept at least two feet away from the edge of the trench to avoid struck-by accidents.
- Toxic gasses and chemicals – If employers do not perform the required atmospheric testing, workers may be exposed to potentially lethal toxic gasses and chemicals.
- Unsafe excavation sites – Workers may become injured when their equipment is unsafe, the proper protective systems are not in place, or inspections are not performed prior to beginning work.
Common Sewage Worker Injuries
Sewage workers are exposed to many hazards on a regular basis. Working underground, handling dangerous chemicals, and operating heavy machinery are often part of the job. Their duties typically include:
- Cleaning filters and tanks
- Collecting samples
- Monitoring systems and maintain logs
- Operating/cleaning/repairing machinery
- Performing inspections
- Treating contaminated sewage
Such work-related exposures may cause sewage workers to suffer fatal injuries or develop illnesses including:
- Bloodborne illnesses – Workers may be exposed to pathogens such as HIV and the Hepatitis B virus when working around blood and bodily fluids.
- Cancer – Exposure to biohazard waste and biohazard treatment may cause cancer.
- Respiratory problems – Chemicals used to treat sewage can cause damage to the nose, the nasal passages, the throat, and internal organs.
Underground Worker Fatalities in Pennsylvania
Coal miners, trenching and excavation workers, and sewage workers are some of the high-risk occupations associated with underground accidents and fatalities. According to OSHA, trenching and excavation accidents are on the rise, with a fatality rate 112 percent higher than general construction.
Philadelphia Workers’ Comp Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Represent Sewage Workers and Others Injured in Underground Accidents
If you were injured or you lost a loved one in an underground work accident, contact a Philadelphia workers’ comp lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Our experienced attorneys can help you obtain the benefits to which you are entitled, including medical expense and lost wage compensation and death benefits. We proudly represent all types of workers throughout Pennsylvania from our offices located in Philadelphia, Bensalem, Lansdowne, and Reading. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW today.
We represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester and Wynnewood.