Injuries & Deaths at Tampa Electric Co. Plant
On June 29th, two people were killed and four injured in a major incident at the Tampa Electric Co. plant in Apollo Beach, Florida. Workers were reportedly fighting for their lives with burns covering most of their bodies due to molten slag—the byproduct created at the plant when coal is burned for electricity—gushing out of a tank at the plant.
According to the preliminary medical examiner’s report, the two men that were killed were using power washers near the tank moments before the accident. Company officials indicated that employees were trying to unlock the tank when the slag gushed out.
While, unfortunately, much is still unknown, Tampa Electric has a history of deadly incidents: in 1997, four employees were injured after a similar incident, and in 1999 and 2014, employees died in related incidents. Investigators with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have started looking into the incident.
Suspicious Behavior from Company
The company has reportedly been acting suspiciously since the incident occurred. Tampa Electric’s parent companies TECO and Erma Inc. have been surprisingly tight-lipped in refusing to release information about the incident.
However, union officials have pointed out that the company routinely hired outside contractors to perform routine maintenance on company equipment and tanks in order to save money, and in doing so, placed employee safety at risk.
Companies involved in similar employee injury and death incidents have been sued for their negligence in connection with these incidents: For example, the Kleen Energy Plant incident made headlines seven years ago when a gas blow killed six people and injured around 60, including several who suffered severe head injuries. An arbitrator ruled that employees and their families were owed approximately $34,385,426 (or between $377,240 and $5.5 million per family) because Keystone Construction—a contractor hired by O&G Industries to do maintenance on its equipment—was found strictly liable for the explosion. The arbitrator also found that nearby homeowners were due $614,674 for the damages done to their properties during the explosion.
However, in cases like these, it is crucial that those injured and their families work with experienced attorneys who are ready to fight: In the Kleen Energy case, the insurance company which held the insurance policy for Keystone Construction decided to file a federal lawsuit arguing that it did not have to pay off the policy rather than follow the arbitrator’s decision. Specifically, the insurance company argued that it wasn’t liable for the damage awards because Keystone itself had breached the terms of the relevant insurance contract. Because of this dispute, the workers themselves are caught in limbo still waiting for justice today.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve suffered from an injury or a relative’s death due to an incident on a work site, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Speaking with an experienced attorney can help you understand if your rights have been violated. The experienced Boca Raton personal injury lawyers at Lavalle, Brown & Ronan, P.A. are here to help you understand your rights and develop your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.