MFG Chemical Plant, Kimberly Drive, Dalton
A chemical leak at the Dalton MFG Chemical plant left one employee injured Monday, July 7, 2014.
According to the AJC, the accident occurred just after 6:00am at the MFG Chemical, Inc. plant on Kimberly Park Drive in Dalton, GA. An employee was adding a chemical into a plant reactor to produce maleic anhydride when vapors from the chemical reaction escaped before the employee could shut the lid. The worker inhaled the vapor, injuring his respiratory tract. He was airlifted to a burn center in Augusta for treatment.
Maleic anhydride is primarily used to create polyester resins used to manufacture boats, automobiles, trucks, piping, buildings, electrical goods, and other products. The EPA warns, acute inhalation of maleic anhydride may cause injury to the respirator tract, burning of the larynx, reflex cough, lacrimation, headaches, eye irritation, and corneal burns. Additional injuries and medical complications may be sustained from chronic exposure to the substance.
Dalton Fire Chief, Bruce Satterfield, expressed concerns over the repeat occurrences at the MFG Dalton plants. Monday’s chemical leak is the third MFG safety incident to strike the company’s Dalton facilities over the past ten years.
In April 2004, a runaway reaction at the Callahan Road plant released toxic, flammable chemicals into the air, forcing over 200 families to evacuate the area. One worker suffered chemical burns in that incident and over 150 people were treated for chemical exposure. In May 2012, a second runaway reaction at the Callahan Road plant caused a reactor explosion. 40 people were sent to hospitals for decontamination in that incident.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is now investigating this latest MFG Chemical plant incident. Federal investigators previously cited MFG Chemical for failure to anticipate the potential chemical hazards of the 2004 runaway reaction and for failing to adequately prepare an emergency response.
The cause of the latest incident and condition of the injured employee have not yet been released.
Our Legal Take
As the employee was working at the time of the accident he is almost certainly entitled to substantial workers’ compensation benefits per Georgia law. Further claims may also be filed should an equipment malfunction have kept the reactor from closing properly or should a third party error have contributed to an unplanned chemical reaction.
Total financial recovery may be in the millions of dollars. A claim of this magnitude would not only ensure the long-term medical needs of the victim, but also call on MFG and other Georgia chemical plants to implement safety procedures and equipment to protect employees from hazardous leaks and chemical reactions. Particularly given MFG Chemical’s previous citations for failing to anticipate chemical hazards, a reevaluation of safety procedures and equipment to protect both employees and the community is crucial.
Unfortunately, insurance companies and employers are often more concerned with returning employees to work quickly than providing victims and their families with the long-term medical care and compensation they deserve. As such, photographs and a thorough inspection of the plant and equipment will need to be retained immediately before any evidence is destroyed. Given the complexity of this case, it is crucial that the victim retain a law firm experienced in both workers’ compensation and personal injury without delay to ensure the best interests of his family are protected.
The Murray Law Firm works tirelessly to protect employees injured in catastrophic work accidents, such as this, and we offer our legal expertise, if needed. Anyone seeking further information or legal representation is encouraged to contact us at 706.494.2800.