Workers at coal-fired power plants in Ohio and elsewhere are typically exposed to multiple hazards, one of which is a pollution-control byproduct known as hydrogen sulfide. Limestone scrubbers serve to trap sulfur gases at power plants. Over time the sulfur causes the limestone to turn into gypsum, which releases hydrogen sulfide during degradation. Failure to protect employees against such hazards is a safety violation.

Exposure to hydrogen sulfide can cause nearly instant asphyxiation. Two workers recently died from such exposure at a power plant in a neighboring state. Reportedly, five employees were in the confined space of a pit where they were replacing an elbow joint of a pipe as part of their maintenance duties. Upon removing the old joint, they were immediately exposed to hydrogen sulfide.

Three of the men managed to escape the confined space in time, but the deadly gas overcame two others. Those who got out in time were rushed to a hospital — the severity of their conditions is unknown. Investigators with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will determine the company’s compliance with safety regulations related to confined space management and respiratory protection, among other matters.

Regardless of whether any safety violation caused the deaths of these two workers, their families will be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Similarly, any family who loses a loved one in a work-related accident in Ohio can file death benefits claims with the state’s workers compensation program. Help is available from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can take over navigation of the claims to allow the family time to grieve their loss.

Source:, “Hazardous gas blamed in Beaver County power plant deaths“, Renatta Signorini, Aaron Aupperlee, Aug. 30, 2017