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Workplace accidents: Ammonia leak kills worker at seafood plant

Food processing plants in California and across the country pose unique hazards related to dangerous chemicals that form part of the refrigeration process. Workplace accidents at such facilities sometimes involve toxic ammonia fumes. This was determined to have been the cause of the recent death of a worker at an out-of-state plant at which seafood is processed.

The incident reportedly occurred on a recent Wednesday when workers at the plant smelled a familiar ammonia odor. A massive leak was discovered that affected workers and residents in the area. Some workers noticed a colleague's absence and a search resulted in the discovery of the deceased worker in a stairwell at the seafood processing plant.

Responding fire fighters in full protective gear were unable to enter the premises due to the noxious fumes of ammonia. A hazmat team was summoned, and it discovered that a pipe carrying ammonia from a 5,400-pound tank had sprung a large leak. It took more than three hours to repair the leak. Police detectives are working with investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to determine the cause of the deadly leak.

Fatal workplace accidents naturally cause severe trauma for the surviving family members -- not only emotional but also financial. Fortunately, financial assistance can be pursued through the California workers' compensation insurance program. Successful death benefits claims typically provide coverage for end-of-life expenses along with a financial package to assist dependents with financial obligations for a set period following the loss of loved ones. The amount of this package is determined by the most recent level of the decedent's income.

Source: bostonherald.com, "Worker dies in ammonia leak at plant in Seaport", O'Ryan Johnson, March 24, 2016

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