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Workplace accident in Knouse Foods plant sends 11 to hospitals

Fresh produce and processed products from Knouse Foods have graced the tables of many households in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The cooperative has also employed many local residents. However, the company may now be under fire after a workplace accident at one of its plants sent 11 people to local hospitals.

According to officials, a fire ignited in a contractor-owned tractor-trailer that was full of hazardous materials. Employees were evacuated and people who were half a mile from the plant were advised to remain indoors with their windows shut. The plant subsequently shut down its operations and will remain closed for clean up and investigation.

Firefighters worked in shifts to put out the fire while several ambulances were also required at the scene. The fire lasted for about four hours.

Of the 11 people who were hurt, seven were sent to a local hospital as a precautionary measure because of exposure to burning toluene smoke. Of the seven, four were emergency responders and three were Knouse employees. Four others were taken to two other hospitals.

The unsafe handling of chemicals can be very dangerous. When hazardous chemicals, such as toluene are exposed to fire, the smoke that it produces can irritate the eyes and the respiratory system.

A job-related injury can cause emotional and financial turmoil for the employee and his or her family. Workplace injuries can also result in substantial medical expenses and if these injuries require a long recovery, that can translate into lost wages.

Fortunately, Philadelphia employers are required to carry workers' compensation benefits. In the event that a work-related accident results in injuries, the worker must seek medical attention first and then report the injuries to his or her employer. If there is difficulty in getting compensation, the employee may wish to seek the advice of a legal professional.

Source: The Evening Sun, "Chemical blaze in Orrtanna sends 11 to hospitals," Adam Michael and Mark Walters, Jan. 21, 2014

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