Workers’ compensation for gas workers after Massachusetts blast?

A gas explosion in Springfield recently decimated a strip club and a day care center, destroying or imperiling as many as 42 buildings in the downtown area. The accident injured a number or gas workers, policeman and firemen as well as several civilians. As such, the tragedy raises some important issues about workers’ compensation benefits as they are applied in the state of Massachusetts.

The gas company received reports of a gas leak late on a Saturday afternoon. Officials moved to evacuate the area ahead of the 5:30 p.m. explosion. The people injured were primarily city and gas company employees. When gas workers discovered an explosion was imminent, most of the individuals who were injured took cover behind a utility truck. The truck was destroyed in the blast that followed.

In all, nine firefighters and two policemen, as well as four gas company workers, two civilians and a Springfield government employee were taken to two area hospitals for treatment. The nature and extent of their injuries was not detailed in a news report. However, officials lauded the quick thinking of the workers involved to prevent the potential for catastrophic injuries to a great number of people.

Workers’ compensation benefits are typically paid to employees in Massachusetts who are injured or become ill on the job. Firemen and policemen, however, do not come under the provisions of the statute and are handled separately according to our laws and procedures. Here, the gas workers and the injured city government worker are likely entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits to cover their medical expenses and missed time from work, while the injured firemen and police officers have procedures that apply specifically to them.

Source:, “Gas blast at Mass. strip club under investigation,” Nov. 24, 2012

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