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After a thorough investigation autopsies have shown that the three workers killed in the collapse of a Slim Jim factory in North Carolina died from being crushed to death. According to the Raleigh News & Observer it was reported Friday that autopsy results were released for workers Barbara McLean, Lewis Watson and Rachel Pulley. The ConAgra employees died from blunt force trauma in the June 9 explosion at the Slim Jim plant in Garner, where almost 40 were injured.

Findings from the investigation have two federal agencies blaming natural gas for the blast. According to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, it was found that contractors installing a water heater had likely vented natural gas inside the building before the explosion as they purged a gas line. They surmised that the gas should have been vented outside. The Slim Jim plant was closed for a few weeks, but production has been scheduled to resume as soon as this Monday.

Occupational fatalities are preventable. Prevention of occupational fatalities depends on the understanding that worker safety is not only the responsibility of the worker, but is the primary responsibility of the employer. Employers must train all employees in the appropriate safety procedures and maintain a safe working environment so that fatalities are less likely to occur.

An occupational fatality is not just the fault of the deceased worker; instead, it is the combination of unsafe work environments, insufficient safety training, and negligible employee supervision that contribute fatal incidents. As a result, it is imperative that an employer address all the potential risk factors at the workplace and educate all employees in safe work practices and risk awareness.

Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm is based in Virginia (VA), with an office also in Elizabeth City, in Northeast North Carolina (NC), practicing primarily in the southeastern U.S. and handles only injury law, including car, truck, railroad, and medical negligence cases and more. Our Carolina injury law website is:, the firm edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, as well as the Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard and also hosts a YouTube injury law video library covering many FAQ’s on personal injury subjects. Lawyers licensed in: VA, NC, SC, WV, DC, KY.


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