Pennsylvania Coke-Oven Explosion Injures 20

Yesterday’s powerful explosion of a U.S. Steel coke-oven in Clairton, Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh seriously injured 20 workers, sending regional emergency crews rushing to the chaotic scene. Most of the injured workers suffered painful burns but at least 3 of the workers sustained severe, potentially life-altering injuries. The two most severely injured workers sustained serious chemical burns to their heads, necks, faces and airways. A spokesperson for West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh where the men are being treated said the inhalation injuries put these men at critical risk.

Another worker was hospitalized at West Penn with serious burns over his head, neck, face and hands and an ankle fracture. Five additional workers are being treated for serious burn injuries at another hospital. Learn more about burns here.

The accident occurred about 9:30 a.m. yesterday when a full shift of workers was at their posts. About 1,500 people work at the plant. The explosion at U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works plunged the plant into darkness, sending debris flying through the air. The force of the explosion bent steel beams and crumbled thick block walls. The resulting fire raged into the afternoon. Bob Full, Allegheny County emergency services chief told the Associated Press, “It’s a miracle that anybody even walked away from that.”

Investigators from U.S. Steel and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are investigating the cause of the explosion. Early eyewitness testimony points to a possible problem with the oven’s gas supply oven. This isn’t the first personal injury accident at the Clairton works. A maintenance worker was killed in a September 2009 explosion at the plant.

Manufacturing plants have a duty to protect the health and safety of their employees. When serious personal injury construction accidents or death occur on the job, plant owners may be liable for medical expenses and damages to the victim and his family. Pearce Law Firm can review your case and advise you of your rights.