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4 workers killed by chemical leak, 1 injured

In California, workplace accidents can involve many types of dangers in addition to the classic equipment or fall hazards. As illustrated by a recent and sobering case out of Texas, workers are sometimes killed or injured while working around and with hazardous substances, such as chemicals.

The incident in Texas occurred at a DuPont chemical plant outside of Houston on Nov. 15. At least five workers were exposed to a chemical used in insecticides, fungicides and as an agent to add smell to natural gas. Neighbors to the plant indicated they had smelled a chemical smell. DuPont officials apparently told local law enforcement authorities that the chemical dissipates quickly in air and was harmless.

The deadly exposure happened around 4:00 a.m. Workers at the plant, which employs around 300 people, reported they had been directed to take shelter several times throughout the day. The exposed workers were reportedly trying to repair a leak. Four of them died, while a fifth remains hospitalized with serious personal injuries resulting from the chemical exposure. DuPont executives state they are fully cooperating with investigating agencies and authorities regarding the matter.

Toxic exposure at a workplace can lead to serious injuries or even death of those who are exposed. Employers are required to follow multiple safety regulations put in place by both the federal and state governmental regulating bodies. Additionally, employers are also mandated to provide coverage to their workers through workers' compensation coverage. A worker who is injured while on the job may be able to recover medical and treatment expenses and lost wages due to the accident. The family of a worker who is killed at work may also be able to recover death benefits through a workers' compensation claim.

Source: EHS Today, "Chemical Leak Kills Four Workers at DuPont Facility in Texas", Sandy Smith, November 15, 2014

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