This morning, as the eyes of America focused on the apprehension of an at-large suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, another tragedy continued to unfold in the tiny town of West, Texas. An enormous explosion in a fertilizer plant on April 17th killed many, injured approximately 200, and caused widespread destruction of homes and property.
As we follow the news from the blast site, our minds turn to the human element—the victims, and particularly the workers killed or injured on the job, and their families.
This grim story is bound to be a debacle for West, Texas workers and their families, because of the scanty workers’ compensation benefits available in Texas. Texas law is one of the most regressive in the nation concerning workers’ rights.
While the evidence from the scene remains to be sifted and examined, data indicates that the Texas fertilizer plant might have put workers’ safety at risk. The Los Angeles Times reported that the company had an uneven safety record and a history of infractions. Last year, West Fertilizer Co. paid $5,250 to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration over violations discovered in 2011, according to records reviewed by the Los Angeles Times.
Note: Just two hours ago, authorities reported that 12 bodies had been recovered from the rubble of the town. Some of these were believed to be first responders– firefighters and police–rushing to the emergency to help. Others may have been workers, simply doing their jobs to support their families.
We are continuing to follow this devastating story and will post again soon.