Gas explosions are one of the most common causes of household fires and related deaths in the U.S. Over the last 20 years, 772 gas pipeline explosions have injured 1,267 people and killed 291 others, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Gas explosions can happen at work, in the field or right at home. Every year, explosions cause millions of dollars of property damage, serious injuries and deaths. You may have the power to prevent a gas explosion in the District of Columbia with a few important safety tips.
As a Worker
If you work in D.C.’s gas and oil industry, take it upon yourself to try to prevent gas explosions. Stay vigilant in your day-to-day operations and be alert for signs of gas leaks. Always use visible markers to warn others of buried gas pipes. When digging or excavating, look carefully for markers to avoid striking an underground gas line. If you do strike a pipeline, call 911 immediately to report a hazardous substance leak.
On the job, regularly check all gas pipelines you encounter for corrosion, damage or gas leaks. Notify someone immediately if you notice anything amiss. Your employer should install methane gas detectors in the workplace and regularly maintain gas-powered equipment. The utility company should also monitor gas pressure in its lines, as well as regularly conduct valve checks.
If you notice any broken safety codes or violations in your workplace, report them to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Violated OSHA codes are some of the most common reasons behind workplace disasters such as gas explosions. Your employer lawfully cannot retaliate against you for reporting the company to OSHA. OSHA can visit your workplace, inspect the pipelines, check for broken safety codes and penalize the company for any violations.
As a Home or Business Owner
Gas explosions can also happen at home or a local business in D.C. These disasters have caused catastrophic injuries such as loss of limb, eye and ear injuries, third-degree burns, and death. As a home or business owner, you can take steps to help prevent gas leaks and related fires or explosions. Your awareness could help prevent a catastrophe.
- Follow all instructions carefully for the installation, use and maintenance of gas appliances and equipment.
- Schedule at least annual professional inspections of your gas lines, appliances, furnaces, chimneys and vents.
- Install carbon monoxide/methane detectors in each main room and hallways. Keep up with battery replacements and maintenance.
- Check for at least one fire extinguisher per floor of your home or office. Look at expiration dates to make sure they are still usable.
A gas explosion is a life-changing disaster that could prove fatal for you, a family member, your coworkers or your employees. As a building owner or renter, take gas safety into your own hands. Schedule professional inspections, follow all maintenance and care guides, and report anything wrong or suspicious immediately.
What to Do If You Detect a Gas Leak
If you believe you have a gas leak in your workplace, home or office, immediately evacuate the area. While still in the house, do not turn on any lights or anything electrical. Do not light the oven or any matches. Tell everyone in the building to exit immediately. Go far outside the building to make the phone call to 911 or another emergency response service. Wait for emergency teams to arrive and do not reenter the building until they have cleared it for reentry.
You may have grounds for an injury or wrongful death lawsuit if you experienced a gas explosion in D.C. The utility company, a product manufacturer, your employer, your landlord and/or another party could be legally responsible for negligently failing to prevent the disaster. In these cases, injured victims may be eligible to receive compensation for their hospital bills, pain and suffering, permanent disabilities, lost income and property damages. Speak to a lawyer if a gas explosion in D.C. recently affected you.