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Two Workers Severely Burned in Brooklyn Manhole Fire

In a harrowing series of events, two construction workers in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn suffered severe burns on the morning of Tuesday, January 28, 2020. The workers were part of a contract crew that was upgrading the gas main in the area, according to a statement from the National Grid. At approximately 10:00 a.m., the two men were working on a manhole at 1905 Bayridge Parkway in Brooklyn, when flames suddenly began to erupt from the manhole's opening, catching the two workers off guard.

A resident whose home faces the manhole said that she saw one worker roll on the ground, attempting to put the fire on his back out, while she suspected the other worker had sustained facial burns. She remembered seeing him with "a lot of blood on his face." A witness tried to help the two men, who were screaming for help, by giving them water. The workers were also seen attempting to remove their clothes in an effort to extinguish the fire.

In the aftermath of such a horrific tragedy, the first question on everyone's minds is, how could this have happened? Although the exact cause of the fire is still unclear, on any work site, every precaution should be taken in order to keep accidents like these from occurring. No one should ever be placed in an unsafe work environment and have to endure such a traumatic and painful experience.

Even after the two workers had been taken to Staten Island University Hospital's burn unit, fire continued to spew out of the manhole as the FDNY made attempts to contain it. Approximately 25 National Grid customers in the area were without service so crews could safely work to put out the fire, which was fully extinguished by 2:45 p.m. A representative from the National Grid commented that "safety is our top concern," but considering that two workers had already been seriously burned on the job, it seems like their concern comes a bit too late.

The cause of the gas main rupture and resulting fire is still unclear and an investigation into the accident is underway.

These workers should never have been injured like this. There were 531,500 outside fires in the United States in 2017, according to statistics from the U.S. Fire Administration, most of which were caused unintentionally. Most fires are terrible accidents, and unfortunately, the risk of that accident increases when you are on a construction site, especially a site like a gas main in a manhole, where hazards like gas and oil are prevalent.

That is why it is absolutely necessary to ensure proper fire safety precautions are being taken on all work sites. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides tips for fire prevention and protection on construction sites. Some of these include:

  • Any potential fire hazards or sources of ignition should be noted, and if deemed a threat, corrective measures should be taken
  • There should be a "fire plan" in place prior to beginning work, detailing every worker's role in the case of a fire and an evacuation plan
  • Fire extinguishers should be fully accessible
  • An alarm system should be in place, so both workers and the fire department can be alerted in the event of a fire
  • Smoking should be prohibited, or only permitted in areas that are free of all hazardous materials and have acceptable trash containers for disposal
  • There should be easy access to a sufficient water supply

If you have been the victim of a fire, whether it was on your work site or in your residence, and you believe it was due to another party's negligence, contact the accident lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy. Our experienced team of personal injury attorneys will be able to help ensure that your legal rights are protected. We obtained a $1,650,000 settlement for the family of a heroic 67-year-old man who died in his apartment building while trying to alert his neighbors of the fire that was quickly consuming the building.

Call us today at 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation legal consultation.

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