Articles Posted in Explosions

An Idaho mine operator says it plans to contest citations and fines totaling $1 million levied by the federal government in the wake of a miner’s death earlier this year, the Associated Press reports in an article reprinted in The Oregonian. The violations that led to the citations, in turn, raise wrongful death questions and are a reminder for us here in Oregon that mine operators and other employers in hazardous industries have, at all times, both a legal and a moral obligation to do everything they can to keep employees safe.

The 53-year-old victim, a 12-year veteran of the mine according to AP, died last April after a cave-in at the place where he and his brother were working, approximately one mile underground. The two “had just finished watering down blasted-out rock and ore in the mine in the Idaho Panhandle before the collapse,” the news agency writes.

The miner’s job involved “drilling holes in a rock face, blasting it to rubble, then carting the debris to the surface to be processed into silver, lead and zinc.”

An Oregon City propane explosion left an 80-year-old man severely burned, requiring emergency air evacuation to the Oregon Burn Center, according to a recent article in The Oregonian.

The explosion, which also killed 200 birds with which the man was working in a barn, was strong enough that it destroyed “a 10-by-12 wall and blew out a nearby garage door,” according to The Oregonian. It took place after the victim “had turned on the propane and gone to light a heater that was hanging from the ceiling in a barn.” The “active fire” was out by the time law enforcement officials arrived though the area was still filled with smoke, according to the paper.

The paper reports that “authorities are not investigating the accident,” believing that the explosion was simply the result of the propane having been left on longer than the victim intended. The published reports of the incident, however, raise questions of Oregon product liability that bear examination.

The death of a Forest Grove resident in an Oregon explosion near Gaston raises critical safety issues. According to television station KGW, the blast at the Stimson Lumber Company also injured at least two other workers. The incident may fit Oregon’s definition of an industrial accident, depending on what investigators determine to be its precise details.

The station, quoting local fire department officials, reports that the accident took place when “a six-foot-tall hydraulic accumulator machine exploded… as three workers were trying to dismantle it.” The incident also led to other parts of the mill complex being evacuated, KGW notes, “as a safety precaution.” State OSHA officials were reportedly on-site to begin their investigation shortly after the accident occurred.

Complex incidents like this one may fit the definition of an Oregon industrial accident if the equipment involved can be shown to have been defective or if the suggested procedures for operating it offered inadequate safety protections. Oregon explosions and similar industrial accidents often require specialized legal knowledge to litigate, because of the complex – often overlapping – layers of accountability on and off the job site that need to be examined as part of any court proceeding.