One worker died and another was injured on Tuesday morning, January 22, 2013, at the Resolute Forest Products plant in Catawba. Catawba is located in southeastern York County.
Although the accident was clearly work related, an initial investigation of the incident failed to reveal what exactly caused the death of the 39 year old worker from Monroe, North Carolina. According to Sabrina Gast, the York County Coroner, he died at approximately 1:30am while he was working inside a fume tank. There was no evacuation ordered for the plant that has 600 employees.
The men were hired to clean a large tank in the plant’s power generation section. The 10 foot by 40 foot tank was up for scheduled maintenance, according to a spokesperson for Resolute Forest Products.
It was reported that there were no burns on his body and there was no explosion. One of the other contract employees had some minor irritation and was taken to Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill for further examination. The third man involved was examined on-site and released. All workers were wearing protective gear.
There was speculation that possibly some chemical may have leaked into the tank but there was no evidence of that happening. The tank that was being cleaned is used to collect odorless chemical fumes, which are later burned off in power boilers.
Investigators from the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) will examine the site and report their findings. Such an investigation usually takes six to eight weeks.
This is not the first time Resolute Forest Products has faced an OSHA investigation. In May 2012, four employees were sprayed with a chemical called “white liquor” when a suction valve malfunctioned. In June 2012, a contract employee was splashed in the face with white liquor. The worst accident at Resolute was in 2000, when an explosion caused the deaths of two contract workers who were welding a tank. It exploded, killing them and injuring several others.
OSHA issued the company four violations last year which were listed as “serious.” Fines were set at $6,125 if these items were not corrected.
Workers at large plants like the Resolute Forest Products plant in Catawba face danger every day they go to work. When workers are injured on the job they are entitled to North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits from their employer’s insurance company. These benefits include weekly compensation benefits while they are off work and medical care. Once the worker attains maximum medical improvement following the injury, there can be a lump sum settlement negotiated depending on the extent and duration of their injury.
If a worker suffers an injury or death on the job and it is caused by the negligence of someone other than the worker’s employer, there might be a separate claim or cause of action for third party negligence. Those situations are often very complex and require immediate investigation to determine what caused the accident and to preserve valuable evidence.
If you or a family member has suffered an injury on the job or lost a loved one in an industrial accident, you need to talk to a Charlotte attorney experienced in handling workers’ compensation and third party cases.
Auger & Auger is a Charlotte, North Carolina based firm with three offices in Charlotte. We also have offices in Raleigh and Greensboro. Our Workers’ compensation team is headed by the firm’s founding partner, Herbert W. Auger. For nearly 20 years we have been helping injured workers get what they deserve.
Contact us through our website or you can call (704) 364-3361 or (800) 559-5741 toll free, for a free consultation.
With our firm, you never owe a fee unless we get you a settlement.
NC worker dies in accident at York Co. paper plant, Herald Online, Article by Jonathan McFadden, January 22, 2013
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