The workplace fire happened just after 6 a.m., with fire crews being called to the 7000 block of Statesville Road, the Wilson Trucking Corp., where there was a reported explosion and fire on the loading dock.
WSOCTV.com reported they arrived with heavy smoke and flames pouring out of the loading dock. Ultimately, nearly 100 firefighters had work nearly two hours to get the blaze under control.
Medics reportedly rushed six people to the hospital, including two with life-threatening injuries. Several others were examined at the scene.
Officials with the Charlotte Fire Department have not said what caused the explosion or fire. However, workers reportedly told news crews there were “lots of hazards” in the building. It’s not clear whether that means the company wasn’t abiding industry standards or simply that hazardous materials were stored there.
One worker mentioned the presence of gas-powered lifts, propane tanks, fireworks and other chemicals. Those materials are shipped by the company to other locations.
Charlotte Fire Chief Jon Hannan said the layout of the loading dock may have contributed to the spread of the fire. While the area inside is completely open, the trailers are backed in to the bay and there is no firewall that would have halted flames from spreading from one side to the other.
Our Charlotte workers’ compensation attorneys know employees in this type of situation may suffer from a myriad of ailments, including:
- Smoke inhalation;
- Chemical exposure;
- Mental/ emotional harm;
- Scarring/ disfigurement.
The property damage done to the building is estimated to be approximately $1.5 million. Of course, the human toll may significantly exceed that when you factor in medical expenses.
This awful incident illustrates the danger of warehouse fire hazards. The reality is, even buildings that have fire inspections, are up to code and have been designed with a sprinkler system may be susceptible to fire.
If you operate or work at a warehouse facility – large or small – it is imperative to comply with fire safety codes. This not only improves workplace safety, it will help the company to avoid costly fines.
But again, following the minimum required standards is only going to provide minimal protection. It’s important to take it a step further.
Some things you may want to consider:
- Keeping your storage no higher than 18 inches underneath the sprinkler heads. Anything closer to that, and you could be blocking the fire sprinkler protection features.
- Make sure to maintain the transverse flue space on either side of racked pallets – at least six inches long-wise, between rows or back-to-back.
- Any dead-end single aisles in the warehouse should be no more than 50 feet in length.
- If warehouses are restocked manually, make sure the aisles are minimally obstructed.
- Smoking should be banned in all warehouses, with very clear “No Smoking” signs posted throughout.
- Liquid propane cylinders for use on LP forklifts need to be kept at least 20 feet away from fire exits.
- Adhere to local fire codes for storage of plastics, aerosols and other hazardous materials.
It’s also important that all warehouses have a clear evacuation plan and that employees are trained for that, as well as for fire extinguisher training.
If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
6 injured in explosion and fire at north Charlotte trucking company, July 20, 2016, By Joe Marusak, The Charlotte Observer
More Blog Entries:
Construction Worker Falls a Widespread Problem in Industry, July 3, 2016, Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog