A flash fire at an east Erie industrial plant burned a maintenance worker on the afternoon of March 4. Emergency personnel transported the worker to a local medical center for treatment. He was later transferred to a Pittsburgh hospital burn unit where he has been listed in critical condition.

No other employees were hurt in the workplace accident, and other workers were evacuated from the plant. The incident took place at a metal fabricating company, which is located on the 1600 block of East 12th Street around 1:00 p.m. The employee was apparently servicing a piece of equipment that cleans and washes parts to prepare them for painting. He was on top of the machine – a powder coat oven – when a spark started a flash fire, according to a deputy Erie fire chief.

A flash fire may be the result of an accumulation of combustible dust such as dried paint particles or sawdust. Employers who fail to maintain a clean facility and allow combustible dust to accumulate run the risk of flash fires resulting in injuries or fatalities. In addition, employers may be subject to fines and penalties imposed by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

If an employee is severely burned in a flash fire, workers’ compensation should pay for the victim’s medical bills, lost wages and other accident-related expenses. A personal injury attorney with a background in workers’ compensation cases might assist an accident victim in negotiations or litigation with his or her employer. It’s important to note that an employee may not file a personal injury claim once he or she has accepted an employer’s offer of workers’ compensation.

Source: Occupational Health and Safety, “Combustible Dust and the Flash Fire Hazard,” Scott M. Margolin, Dec. 10, 2010

Source: WSEE, “Worker Burned in Flash Fire“, Scott Bremmer, March 04, 2014