The Chicago Occupational Accident Attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers Represent Injured Peoples Gas Workers
Peoples Gas Workers are responsible for transporting natural gas safely to your residential or commercial property. The company delivers the flammable product across thousands of miles throughout the Chicago metropolitan area using a modernize gas system based on an enhanced integrity management process.
The natural gas fuel used in homes and businesses is delivered through pipes from the gas plant after being extracted from the earth thousands of miles away and transported across pipelines that crisscross the nation under pressure. The hierarchical system of employed Peoples Gas Workers ranges from gas line and equipment installers and maintenance technicians to the operational managers, supervisors, and engineers.
Most Peoples Gas Workers handle the delivery of natural gas after it arrives from the operational plan to the distribution center under extreme pressure and out to service lines in homes and commercial structures at lower pressure. As the natural gas flows through the distribution system, the worker is responsible for maintaining regulators to control the gas flow to safe pressures. Workers handle a variety of safety features including installed relief valves that can harmlessly vent gas that has pushed through the system under too much pressure.
The workers are also responsible for maintaining the service line and bringing the gas up to the meter attached to the home or business. The consumer owns the product on their side of the meter and is responsible for maintaining the gas line to its point of use in the heater, range, stove, dryer or other appliances. At this point, the 60 pounds or more of pressure at the gas plant has been reduced to a quarter pound of pressure or less, which is only minimally higher than normal air pressure.
Gas Worker Hazards
Safety when handling the highly explosive material is crucial to the worker safety. According to the US OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), in 2014, the fatalities rate of gas workers was seven times higher than all other industries nationwide. Statistics maintained by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reveal that in the decade between 2003 and 2013, the fatality rate of gas workers was 27.6%, resulting in 1189 deaths.
Typically, Peoples gas workers are susceptible to life-threatening injury hazards and safety issues that are somewhat different than other workers. These hazards include:
- Motor Vehicle Accidents – Many peoples gas workers drive throughout the Chicago metropolitan area while providing support to the gas plant and distribution system. Others work at pumping stations, install underground gas lines, and visit residential homes to turn gas service on and off. These workers often deal with heavy loads, rush-hour traffic and driving in adverse weather conditions that places the life of the employee at risk.
- Contact Injury – The majority of on-site fatalities at the gas plant and extraction sites occur when the worker is caught between, caught in, or struck by objects at the job site. These dangerous, life-threatening problems occur around high-pressure lines, falling equipment, and moving vehicles.
- Explosions and Fires – Many gas workers lose their lives every year when involved in a job-related explosion or fire while handling combustible and flammable liquids.
- Slipping, Tripping, and Falling – Many mild to severe injuries are the result of non-fatal falling, slipping, or tripping incidents while working at the gas plant, distribution center, or in the field at residential and commercial properties.
- Confined Spaces – Pipeline workers must often do their duties in confined spaces while building and maintaining the service lines that transport natural gas. Many of the safety hazards when working under these conditions involve ignited flammable gases and vapors.
- Chemical Exposure – Gas workers are often exposed to a variety of toxic chemical substances, corrosives, sensitizers, irritants, asphyxiates and carcinogens. Chemical hazards can occur through ingestion, inhalation, or direct skin contact with solvents, VOCs, and silica. Additionally, the worker's family can be at risk of chemical exposure when the worker transports the harmful substance on clothing when coming home from work.
- Hazardous Biological Exposure – Workers may also be exposed to numerous biological hazards including bacteria, parasites, and viruses.
- Psychosocial Hazards – Working long hours, in overcrowded situations, or in isolation.
- Ergonomic Hazards – Working in awkward postures for extended lengths of time can cause serious musculoskeletal disorders.
Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) are significant side effect of the job that can cause chronic and acute pain on the worker's tendons, muscles, ligaments, joints, cartilage and other soft body tissue. Nearly all MSDs in the workplace are inherent to a utility worker who must often perform their duties in awkward postures using poorly designed tools under extreme temperatures repetitively. This includes continuous kneeling, bending, reaching, twisting and working overhead while remaining flexible to get the job done.
Peoples Gas Workers' Wages
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for the year 2016, involving employment data of the previous year, there were 410 Peoples Gas Workers on the job in the Chicago, Naperville and Arlington Heights metropolitan area. These statistics reveal that Peoples Gas Workers in northeastern Illinois earned $36.42 per hour, or $75,750 annually, on average. These earning wages are significantly higher than the national averages. See Chart
Natural Gas Worker Fatalities
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), working with natural and propane gases is one of the most dangerous jobs. Below is just a small sampling of injuries and fatalities involving fires, explosions and other incidences that harmed or claimed the lives of gas workers. These cases include:
- Case 1: Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania – In January 2018, three Harford Township natural gas workers suffered traumatic injuries at a Well Pad in Susquehanna County. The Fire Department responders extracted one worker from the job site using ropes and the basket to remove the employee from the rig. The incident report revealed that three contractors suffered injuries. Two employees were transported to the Scranton Geisinger Community Medical Center and another to a New York hospital.
- Case 2: Ohio County, West Virginia – In December 2017, a gas worker was killed after being struck by a truck moving a piece of natural gas pipe. One witness at the scene stated that the track Co. vehicle caring the pipeline up the hill slipped on the ice and hit the victim who was dead on arrival after being transported to the West Liberty Emergency Medical Services. State and federal regulatory agencies were contacted to investigate the incident.
- Case 3: March 2017 – An AmeriGas propane employee suffered burns while filling a propane canister. Just after noon on March 2, 2017, a propane gas worker was "preparing to fill a propane container when a fire erupted, and the [30-year-old male worker] was burned. The initial report did not provide the severity of burns or any additional information. The employee was hospitalized" for burns and heat scalds.
- Case 4: May 2017 – A gas worker received a burn while handling propane. On the midafternoon of April 28, 2017, a propane gas worker "was filling a residential customer's tank with propane. The schedule A decoupling [device] malfunction and disconnected from the hose reel. The [36-year-old male worker] received first and second degree [chemical] burns to his arms and face. The employee was hospitalized and treated for burns."
- Case 5: May 2017 – On the midafternoon of May 25, 2017, two workers "were preparing hot plates to use during fusion of plastic piping. Other workers at the site were backfilling a trench. Other workers at the site were welding and using oxyacetylene torches to connect steel piping in the trench." Flammable vapors from the crude oil tank exploded spreading a flash fire throughout the trench. The explosion resulted in fourth-degree burns and killed a 32-year-old male employee. "Three workers sustained third-degree burns and was hospitalized. Two workers sustained first and second-degree burns and were treated and released."
- Case 6: March 2017 – on the afternoon of March 2, 2017, a worker "was trying to light a burner on a fire pit. The excess gas built up in the pit and the igniters with the gas." The forty-year-old male worker "suffer third-degree burns to the left arm and first degree burns to the face for which he was hospitalized."
- Case 7: July 2017 – A worker was caught in a propane fire and suffered burns. On July 18, 2017, at 6:00 PM, an employee "was filling a propane tank in a motorhome while filling the propane tank, there was a popping sound and a flash fire. The [male] employee was taking the local hospital and then air-lifted to" a Portland Hospital "for burn treatment."
- Case 8: July 2017 – An AmeriGas propane employee installing a pipe valve suffered serious burns. On July 18, 2017, at 2:00 PM, an AmeriGas worker was "attempting to reinstall a pipe valve. The employee did not turn off the propane source, and the fuel ignited as it escaped into the room. The employee suffered first and second degree burns to [his] arms, legs, and face."
- Case 9: August 2017 – During the late morning hours of August 18, 2017, a worker "was inserting a plugged into an oil & gas line. The employee was struck in the head when a canister plugged was ejected due to overpressure, and the [28-year-old male worker] was killed due to blunt force trauma."
Every worker injured on the job is entitled to receive workers compensation. However, seeking additional monetary recovery for all of the injured worker's damages can be complicated. Victims and surviving family members will often hire personal injury attorneys to file additional claims for compensation against third parties that are also responsible for creating an unsafe work environment.
Staying Safe on the Job
Workers must perform their duties around compressed natural and propane gas must take preventative safety measures. The following recommendations from OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) include:
- Workers should remove any item and avoid any object that could ignite or spark flammable gas.
- Employees should wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and clothing.
- Workers should wear properly calibrated and tested gas monitors.
- When necessary, Peoples Gas Workers use purifying air respirators and self-contained breathing apparatus equipment that might be a half-mask or full-face mask.
- Employers should ensure that every dangerous area is marked with posted hazard signs.
- Plant operators should evaluate exposure levels to maintain a safe work environment for off-site contractors and on-site workers.
- Employers should train every gas worker with responsible work practices and defective emergency response measures.
If you are unaware of the known hazards or unsure what to do, it is essential to stop which are doing and ask someone how to remain safe while performing your job duties.
Contact Us Today to Get Your Case Started
Our law firm assists injured Peoples Gas Workers get compensation under the IL Worker's Compensation Act and through civil lawsuits. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers at (888) 424-5757 provide Free Case Reviews and a No-Win/No Fee guarantee.
Many occupational injuries are severe and at times life-threatening. If you have been injured, hiring an employment injury attorney could be beneficial to your financial future. Your lawyer can ensure you receive monetary compensation from multiple sources. The law firm will assist you in organizing and filing a complicated claim for benefits. Additionally, your lawyer might determine that other parties are also at fault for your injuries.
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