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Cairo gas explosion illustrates dangers of Georgia work accidents faced by utility workers

A Cairo utility worker was killed recently in a Georgia work accident when a gas line exploded. Another worker was badly injured when the leaking gas line erupted in a residential area, NBC 10 News reported.

Wendell Harrison, the Cairo gas employee killed in the blast, was honored with flags at half-staff. The state public service commission said it could be months before investigators announce what caused the blast. A spokesman for the Georgia Public Service Commission said such blasts are not common. Then he noted a previous blast occurred in north Georgia earlier this year but was caused by arson.
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The GPSC said its final report will include the cause of the explosion, any safety violations, and whether any fines will be levied against the City of Cairo.

Several high-profile gas-line explosions have made news recently, including the rupture of the San Bruno gas line in California that burned through an entire neighborhood. But employee injury by fire or explosion is still relatively rare. In 2009, three of Georgia’s fatal work injuries were caused by fire or explosion, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nationwide, 256 city employees were killed, more than the combined total number of deaths involving state (75) and federal (116) employees.

Many utility employees work for private industry, including phone companies, cable companies and electric companies. In each case, employers have an obligation to provide the proper safety equipment and training to keep employees safe while on the job. Employees who are injured are entitled to Georgia workers’ compensation benefits for medical expenses and lost wages. Such benefits are available to an injured employee regardless of whether he or she was at fault for an on-the-job accident.

Additionally, third-party claims permit someone who has been injured or killed through the negligence of a third-party, such as a property owner or sub contractor, to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in order to collect damages.

The Atlanta work accident lawyers at the Law Offices of J. Franklin Burns, P.C., have the knowledge and experience to help clients obtain all of the benefits to which they are entitled under the Georgia workers’ compensation program. Our experienced staff will also carefully review the facts and circumstances of your accident to determine whether additional claims can be filed against someone other than your employer. For a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights, call 678-298-0323.