According to the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, the following workplace tragedies in the US made the top 10 list for 2010:
1. April 20, 2010 – Deepwater Horizon explosion. An explosion at the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers, injured 17 others and resulted in the largest oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. Media reports indicate that management knew key safety equipment had been compromised in earlier incidents, but chose to ignore the significance and continue operations. (Click here for a webinar on the practical lessons from this incident.)
2. April 5, 2010 – Upper Big Branch mine explosion, Montcoal, W.Va. An explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County, W.Va., killed 29 workers. The incident represents the worst mining disaster in the US since 1970. Public documents show that the mine’s owner, Massey Energy, has a long record of safety violations at the Upper Big Branch mine. (Click here for more on the reaction of the company’s investors to this incident.)
3. Feb. 7, 2010 – Kleen Energy Power Plant, Middletown, Conn. Contract workers at the Kleen Energy plant were performing a “gas blow,” a procedure that uses natural gas at very high pressure to clean pipes of debris. During the process, the gas encountered an ignition source, resulting in a massive explosion that killed six workers and injured 30 others. Following its in-depth investigation, the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) called natural gas blows “inherently unsafe practices” and called for the immediate ban on the procedure.
4. April 2, 2010 – Tesoro Refining & Marketing Company, Anacortes, Wash. A ruptured heat exchanger at the Tesoro Refinery caused an enormous explosion that rocked the plant and killed seven workers. A six-month long investigation by Washington state OSHA personnel determined that the explosion could have been prevented if the company had carried out proper testing and maintenance on the equipment.
5. Dec. 9, 2010 – AL Solutions Plant, New Cumberland, W.Va. An explosion of undetermined origin killed two brothers working at the plant and injured a third worker. According to media reports, the plant had earned a reputation as a “dangerous place to work” and these deaths were the third and fourth at the plant in the last 15 years.
6. March 2, 2010 – Northwest Insulation, Artesia, N.M. Four contractors were installing insulation on top of a new crude storage tank. Workers were welding when a fire ignited. Two workers were injured when they fell while a third remained on top of the tank and was fatally burned. A fourth worker was confirmed dead more than a week later.
7. May 5, 2010 – Amtec Corporation, Huntsville, Ala. Two workers were killed in a violent explosion at a plant that manufactures rocket fuel. Federal investigators cited the plant’s owners for six serious violations and wilfully exposing workers to fire and explosive hazards without proper protection.
8. June 12, 2010 – Top Notch Cleaners, LLC, Valley, Ala. Two workers were buffing floors during the night at a mental health outpatient facility with machines that use propane gas. They were found dead the next morning. Both the worker who found them and the police who responded to the incident smelled gas when they entered the building. Investigators believe carbon monoxide poisoning and inadequate ventilation contributed to the deaths.
9. July 22, 2010 – Horsehead Corp., Monaca, Pa. An explosion at the Horsehead zinc refinery, a facility with a long history of safety violations and OSHA citations, killed a pair of workers and injured two others. Although investigators still haven’t determined the blast’s cause, the company has a long history of safety violations.
10. July 23, 2010 – Northeast Energy Management Inc., Cheswick, Pa. Two workers engaged in arc welding were burned to death when the tank they were working on exploded, throwing their bodies approximately 60 feet away from the site of the ignition. The explosion and fire that killed the workers was the third involving Northeast Energy Management since September 2007, when one employee was severely burned in an explosion at a gas and oil well.
I couldn’t find a similar list for Canada. So readers, if we were to compile such a list ourselves, what workplace incidents that happened in Canada in 2010 should make the cut?