Oregon Work Injury Lawsuit Settled

The Flynn Law Firm is pleased to report that an Oregon Work Injury lawsuit was settled recently on behalf of a construction worker injured in Astoria, Oregon. The plaintiff suffered 20%TBSA burns from an explosion at an industrial facility on October 19, 2016. The plaintiff hired the Flynn Law Firm and pursued a burn injury lawsuit against the premises owner and others. After over a year of hard-fought litigation, the case was settled just before trial.

The plaintiff sought relief from the owner of the jobsite  under premises liability theories and also brought a claim under the Oregon Safe Employment Act against the premises owner for the owner’s failure to have ventilation installed at his building. In fact, despite the known and intended use of the industrial facility, no ventilation, of any kind, was installed or in place at the time of the gas explosion.

Specifically, the subject premises:

  1. Violated the 2014 Oregon Fire Code (OR Admin. Rule 837-040-0001 et seq., the 2012 International Fire Code, and the Life Safety Code (NFPA 101);
  2. Was not equipped with automatic sprinklers;
  3. Was not equipped with deflagration venting, as required by NFPA 68 and substantive Oregon law;
  4. Was not equipped with any explosion suppression systems, contrary to NFPA 68;
  5. Did not have adequate ventilation, in violation of Oregon law

Oregon’s Safe Employment Act at O.R.S. § 654.010 requires every employer “to furnish a place of employment which is safe and healthful for employees therein,” and to “furnish and use such devices and safeguards,” and to “adopt and use such practices, means, methods, operations and processes as are reasonably necessary to render such employment and place of employment safe and healthful,” and to “do every other thing reasonably necessary to protect the life, safety and health of such employees.”. As to ventilation, Oregon law mandates:

OAR 437-002-1910.106(c)(3)(v):

(v) Ventilation.

(A) Areas as defined in paragraph (c)(2)(i) of this section using Category 1 or 2 flammable liquids, or Category 3 flammable liquids with a flashpoint below 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C), shall be ventilated at a rate of not less than 1 cubic foot per minute per square foot of solid floor area. This shall be accomplished by natural or mechanical ventilation with discharger exhaust to a safe location outside of the building. Provision shall be made for introduction of makeup air in such a manner as not to short circuit the ventilation. Ventilation shall be arranged to include all floor areas or pits where flammable vapors may collect.

(B) Equipment used in a building and the ventilation of the building shall be designed so as to limit flammable vapor-air mixtures under normal operating conditions to the interior of equipment, and to not more than 5 feet from equipment which exposes Category 1 or 2 flammable liquids, or Category 3 flammable liquids with a flashpoint below 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C), to the air. Examples of such equipment are dispensing stations, open centrifuges, plate and frame filters, open vacuum filters, and surfaces of open equipment.

Under Oregon law, contractors injured on the job may be able to recover under workers compensation and still file lawsuits against premises owners or other contractors on the job site for their failure to provide a safe premises and/or for their creation of a dangerous work environment.

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