A group of workers were performing maintenance on a power plant when they were suddenly overcome by hazardous gas. Two of the five men lost their lives, trapped in the pit where they were working. The others are recovering in the hospital but could have injuries that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. What happened to these men, and what lessons can we learn from this tragic incident?
Do You Need to Worry About Toxic Gas in Your Workplace?
These men fell victim to hydrogen sulfide gas, one of the most common toxic gases on many worksites. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this gas is one of the leading causes of workplace inhalation death and is responsible for 60 deaths between the years 2001 and 2010.
This gas is often found at coal-fired plants, oil refineries, dairies and sewage plants. It is a very common gas that smells of rotten eggs. However, large quantities of the gas can overpower a person’s sense of smell. At this level of concentration, hydrogen sulfide can prove deadly, paralyzing a person’s ability to breath and suffocating them.
Where Does This Deadly Gas Come From?
Many workplaces produce this gas as a byproduct of pollution-control. In these procedures, limestone scrubbers are used to remove sulfur gases from the air. This transforms the limestone to gypsum, which gives off hydrogen sulfide as it degrades from bacterial exposure. If these byproducts are not handled correctly, or a leak develops in ventilation systems, then workers could be exposed to this hazardous gas.
Luckily, OSHA and other governmental authorities have security requirements in place for any businesses that may be in danger of producing hydrogen sulfide. However, if you or a loved one are still exposed, you should talk to an Ohio workers compensation lawyer to find out what your options are in this dangerous situation.