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Company not receiving criminal charges for explosion

A contractor that allegedly caused an explosion when an employee hit a gas line at a residence on March 4 will not be brought up on criminal charges. The accident resulted in one fatality and injuries to seven workers. Investigators have ruled the explosion, which damaged more than 50 homes and completely destroyed one house, as an accident. When a contractor in any part of the country, including Pennsylvania, causes a fire or explosion, investigators often look for fault to determine whether a company or worker violated safety regulations.

The explosion in New Jersey occurred when workers from the contractor tried to put in a new electrical line at a home in Ewing Township. City investigators are still looking into whether the workers followed procedure and called 911 right after the gas line was ruptured, before the explosion. The company received fines of more than $100,000 in March and August 2013 for safety violations for its failure to take measures to protect its workers and use correct signals and warning signs at excavation work sites.

A woman who resided at the house that was demolished died in the explosion, and the seven individuals who received minor injuries during the explosion all worked for the local electrical company. In an explosion such as the one in New Jersey, companies are often held liable for their role in a workplace accident during criminal proceedings or civil court trials.

In Pennsylvania and other states, employees need to go through certain procedures, including informing their supervisors about their injuries, seeking medical care and filing injury reports, for workers' compensation claims. Individuals with work-related injuries or illnesses can receive up to two-thirds of their salaries if they are approved for workers compensation benefits. Employees can improve their chances of getting their workers' compensation claims approved or winning lawsuits for workplace injuries if they have witnesses and detailed workplace injury reports to support their cases.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, "Workers' Compensation and the Injured Worker"

Source: NBC Philadelphia, "Mayor: No Criminal Charges Will be Filed for Deadly Explosion", March 07, 2014

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