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2 California workers sent to hospital following lab explosion

Two Amgen Inc. employees at a facility in South San Francisco were injured in a minor explosion in one of the biotechnology company's third-floor labs on Jan. 8, according to a fire marshal. Fire crews were notified of the explosion at around 3:30 p.m., which prompted a second-alarm response, a road closure and an investigation. The investigation is also taking into account the fact that the company experienced another flash fire in May 2013.

After authorities were alerted, police responded and controlled traffic, shutting down an area of Oyster Point Boulevard between Veterans Boulevard and Gateway Boulevard. More than 10 fire apparatus responded as well.

Approximately 100 employees in the facility were evacuated so that the area could be assessed, and it was determined that no harmful chemicals were released into the atmosphere and that the incident was contained to the area of origin, despite the windows blowing out. A chemical reaction involving cleaning solvents, including ethers, led to a flash fire, according to the fire marshal. He assured the public that there was no health risk due to the explosion.

As of the evening of the accident, the fire marshal said that the San Mateo County responders were working to ensure that everything was all right at the facility and that there were not any additional problems or threats. Two lab workers did suffer workplace injuries serious enough to require treatment at a hospital, with one of the workers suffering critical burns to the face and the other worker suffering minor burns to the hands.

Companies are responsible for ensuring the safety of their workers. Those who suffer due to workplace accidents are entitled to workers' compensation benefits to cover the costs of medical treatment and some related expenses. An attorney with workers' compensation experience might be able to clearly explain what the limits of these benefits are and how long the insurance company should take to pay them out.

Source: KGO-TV, "Minor explosion at Amgen sends 2 to hospital", January 08, 2014

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