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One Florida utility has high number of workplace deaths

Workers' compensation options are available to help in circumstances of a fatal workplace accident. According to a local paper, over the last two decades, more workers have died at power plants run by one utility than any other state utility. While the utility had nine workplace deaths in the past two decades, other, and much larger, utilities in the state had no greater than three deaths. Four workers recently died at one of the utility's plants when they suffered severe burns after a molten substance that is referred to as slag escaped from a tank where it was contained.

In addition, at the same power station, a little more than a month prior to the most recent incident, four workers were sent to the hospital after anhydrous ammonia was released into the plant. Exposure to anhydrous ammonia can cause death by suffocation. Overall, the total for the one Florida power utility is higher than the next five utilities combined. The utility has a history of accidents and fines from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

When evaluating tens of thousands of OSHA inspections and identifying 19 fatalities in power plants in Florida since 1997, it was revealed that the utility in question accounts for nearly half the workplace fatalities during that time period, though it only covers fewer than 10 percent of households in the state. Federal data reveals that workers are more likely to be harmed at a construction site or factory, and power plants are generally safer workplaces. One safety expert noted that the utility should be considering the cause of the problem, evaluating management, a possible lack of training or a possible lack of maintenance.

The safety of workers is the responsibility of the company running the power plant in the fossil fuel power stations and all incidents must be reported to OSHA. Because of the serious, and sometimes fatal, nature of workplace accidents, it is important that workers and their families are familiar with workers' compensation options, which include death benefits to protect them in the face of a workplace tragedy.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, "TECO accounts for nearly half of Florida power plant deaths, data shows," Neil Bedi, Jonathan Capriel and Kathleen McGrory, July 8, 2017

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