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Widow responds to husband's fatal accident at Catawba plant

The widow of a contract worker killed on the job last week has leveled some harsh allegations at the company that runs the plant. In a press conference, the woman and her attorney said the incident was mishandled from the moment her husband died.

Her husband, 39, was part of a three-man crew cleaning out a "fume" tank at the Resolute Forest Products plant in Catawba, North Carolina. Some reports say the tank had been decommissioned. Regardless, a deadly chemical leaked into the tank while the men were inside. While two of the workers were able to escape, the victim was not. He died in the tank.

Investigators from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and the county will work together to determine the cause of the accident. They will also, the widow hopes, look into what happened after her husband died.

She did not learn of the accident from a company representative, she says. Instead, she heard from a cousin that her husband had been injured. When she arrived at the plant, security guards would not let her past the gate; she says they bruised her arms in their attempt to keep her out. She eventually made it into the area where the accident had happened. (Sheriff's records indicate the security team called for assistance when family members gained entry into the complex.)

Company employees continued to be hostile, she said. She snapped pictures of the accident site with her cell phone, only to have a worker seize the phone and delete the pictures.

In addition to her complaints about her own treatment, the victim's widow told the press that workers are not trained properly at the plant. The allegation came less than a year after four men were injured at the plant in another chemical leak.

Source: WBTV 3, "Wife makes serious allegations against paper plant after contractor's death," Chris Dyches, Jan. 29, 2013

Our Guilford County, North Carolina, firm helps people in situations like the one discussed in this post. If you are interested in learning more about our practice, please visit our Workers' Compensation Overview page.

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