On August 26, 2021, there was a catastrophic explosion at Platinum Printing in Chandler, Arizona. Four men, including owners Andrew and Dillon Ryan, were injured. According to the Arizona Burn Center, all of the injured men experienced burns ranging from 16-30% of their bodies. These burns across their arms, hands, legs and thighs were the result of propane flash burns.
In a statement from Southwest Gas, the explosion was the result of a gas leak caused by a premature degradation of the natural gas pipe, the Driscopipe 8000, that was used from 1980 to 1999. Southwest Gas installed Platinum Printing’s natural gas lines in 1999.
Degradation of Driscopipe 8000 is a known risk; however, it’s a low probability risk. That said, when degradation does happen, it results in leaks when specific conditions occur. One such condition is when the pipes are exposed to “prolonged periods of ‘no-flow conditions’” and then are exposed to high temperatures over an extended period of time. This is precisely what occurred in the Maricopa County explosion.
The issue with Driscopipe 8000 degradation was discovered in 2014 after a garage exploded in Gilbert, Arizona. Southwest Gas then began an initiative to replace pipelines that use Driscopipe 8000, as well as discontinue installing the brand.
However, Platinum Printing’s pipeline wasn’t replaced due to an error in construction records that led the pipeline to be misidentified. Southwest Gas is now investigating how this “human error” occurred.
A spokesperson for Southwest Gas reported that the explosion has led to a new plan for widespread leak inspections that include mobile patrols checking for leaks, as well as walking leak patrols to check pipes that are similarly sized to the one at Platinum Printing that were installed between 1999 and 2001. The hope is that this type of inspection system will catch leaking pipes before they’re hazardous or noticeable.
Severe burns and workers’ compensation
The National Institute of Health estimates that between 10 and 45 percent of burn injuries happen at work. Moreover, a separate study suggests that explosions and workplace fires result in 40 percent of all workplace burns with 20 percent of thermal burns occurring due to on-the-job accidents.
Types of workplace burns
Depending on the type of industry you’re in, you can experience any type of burn in the workplace. That said, there are 3 types of burns that are most common:
- Chemical burns. Chemical burns, also referred to as “caustic burns,” are the result of some type of irritant coming into contact with an irritant—either an acid or a base. Common chemicals that can result in workplace chemical burns include:
- Car battery acid
- Pool cleaning chemicals
- Electrical burns. Electrical burns are the result of the skin contacting electricity. The danger of electrical burns lies in that electrical currents can easily pass through the body and damage the internal organs as easily as they can damage skin.
- Thermal burns. Thermal burns happen when flames, liquids or steam contact the skin. Luckily, most thermal burns are superficial. However, 7 percent of thermal burns require medical attention.
If you’re injured in an explosion or fire at work, you’re likely eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Remember, however, that you’re not eligible for pain and suffering compensation if you’re injured on the job. That said, if you can prove that a third party is responsible for your injuries, you may be able to collect additional compensation from them on top of your workers’ comp benefits.
Workers’ compensation claims can be confusing and difficult to handle on your own. Not only are they complex, but the last thing you need while you’re recuperating is the stress of dealing with a workers’ comp claim by yourself. Hiring an experienced workers’ comp attorney can take some of the pressure off your shoulders and ensure you get the recovery you deserve.