Diesel is a highly volatile fuel that can spell disaster when used in an asphalt plant. Georgia workers should know that one drum mix asphalt plant had a long-standing practice of using diesel to clean out its silo of asphalt. This meant using a fuel with a flash point of 165 degrees Fahrenheit into an environment that maintains a temperature of upwards of 300 degrees.
For diesel that exceeds its flash point, all that is needed is room to expand, oxygen to transform it into a cloud of explosive gas and a source of ignition. One day, that source of ignition was provided at the aforementioned plant. Although experts are unsure of the cause, an explosion resulted that left one worker with severe burns and a life-long work disability. The fireballs had destroyed the baghouse and burned most of the wiring around the asphalt tank.
The plant was put out of commission for several months because of the accident. It appears that the plant started to inject diesel into the silos rather than reversing the pump to suction out the oil because someone had made modifications to the asphalt plant that made reversing the pump impossible. The company, which owns batch plants where diesel is used for cleaning, reverted to this practice once the oversight was discovered.
Someone who has been injured on the job may have been the victim of negligence, or they may have neglected workplace safety themselves. No matter the case, an employee hurt on the job could be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits that can include the payment of medical bills. However, an injured worker may want a lawyer to assist with the filing and, if the employer or its insurer denies the claim, with an appeal.