Two ex-employees of Airgas USA have filed personal injury complaints against their former employer in Maryland. The suit names both Airgas USA and the manager of the plant where the injured workers used to carry out their jobs. The plant has been closed since the explosion that injured the workers in May 2013.
According to the lawsuit, the workers allege that Airgas and its plant manager put them in danger by forcing them to work under unsafe conditions. Those unsafe conditions ultimately resulted in their injuries, the men said. In their answers to the lawsuit, however, Airgas and its plant manager deny that they created unsafe work conditions. They have also denied participating in any kind of intentional or deliberate misconduct that led to their employees' injuries.
The explosion involved acetylene gas, which is typically used for metal-cutting torches and welding. According to the suit, the men were bleeding the gas from 150 overfull tanks. Ten minutes into the job, a loud explosion occurred. The blast blew off one man's shirt, all the hair on his head was burned off and his body was thrown across the premises into a fence.
After investigating the explosion, federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials identified six violations and four of them were deemed to be serious. The company and manager were fined a total of $19,000 for the violations. However, half of the manager's fines were dissolved after the company protested them. According to OSHA, the manager and the Airgas either should have known or knew about the unsafe conditions, and for this reason the violations were categorized as "serious."
It is not uncommon for an on-the-job accident to result in personal injury claims in Maryland. This is particularly true if the employer knew or should have known of the unsafe conditions leading up to the injury. These men may also qualify or have qualified to receive workers' compensation benefits to help pay for their medical care and time spent unable to work.