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Workplace Accident Causes Severe Burns for Steel Plant Employee

Earlier this year, a man in Portage, Indiana, was placed into an induced coma after an industrial accident at the steel mill where he worked left him with third degree burns over 55 percent of his body.

The accident happened one evening at the ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor plant, when a high-pressure steam hose ruptured from where it was connected to an oxygen furnace. Gabe Rocha, a salaried foreman who transferred from the firm’s Inland Steel plant to the Burns Harbor facility about six months ago, was checking pressure lines that are part of the cooling system when the hose ruptured.

At the time of the accident, workers were investigating an alert that a steam pressure line had stopped working properly. While Rocha was looking into the situation, the hose ruptured with such force that it threw him about 200 feet, dousing him with steam.

Rocha, who is in his 50s, was airlifted to the burn center at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, where he was placed in the coma. Rocha is expected to be in the medically induced coma for about a month, he added. “His hands, neck, back and legs suffered severe burns,” said a union spokesman. Fortunately, he was initially listed in stable condition.

The plant workers’ union and the steelmaking firm have launched a joint union-management investigation into the accident to determine the exact cause, and determine if the incident could have been prevented. “We want to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” said the union spokesperson.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.