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Illinois worker dies after falling into ‘chemical sludge’

On behalf of of Frederick & Hagle posted in Industrial Workers’ Accidents on Friday, December 7, 2012.

Last week, an Illinois man died a terrible death while he was on the job. Reportedly, the Illinois man worked as a part of a team that cleaned out storage tanks. The man was cleaning out a tank in Wheeling, Illinois, that housed a chemical solvent used in products like paint thinner.

Authorities were called when the man fell into the storage tank, but by the time they arrived on the scene of the workplace accident, the man was face down in the tank in what witnesses call a “chemical sludge.” Regrettably, this worker was pronounced dead at the scene of this workplace accident.

While investigation into this workplace death is underway with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there are several questions that arise in this accident. First of all, a report indicates that the victim was not wearing the protective gear that is required for handling and cleaning up after such chemicals. Was the man not provided this gear? Was his employer negligent in failing to inform him to wear such gear?

Further, how did this man fall? A local source was sparse on detail, but it seems unlikely that the worker simply fell into such a dangerous chemical. Was the workplace not properly prepared? Was a coworker negligent? Were other safety measures overlooked by the employer?

There are many questions but few answers that are yet forthcoming. In order to understand what really happened when this worker met his untimely end, the full investigation will need to be completed.

In the meantime the man’s family is likely grieving this terrible end. In Illinois, workers that are killed on the job often leave behind families. Sometimes the decedent was the primary income earner. Beyond the emotional pain, families often grapple with the serious financial hit as well. Spouses and dependants can pursue workers’ compensation death benefits in similar situations to provide for burial expenses and obtain replacement income.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “Federal workplace safety officials investigate death of cleaning crew member in chemical tank,” Associated Press, Nov. 30, 2012

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