Sunday, February 24, 2008

The System - The Family Impact

12th victim dies of injuries from sugar refinery blast

"A worker died Tuesday from injuries suffered in the Imperial Sugar Co. refinery explosion nearly three weeks earlier, leaving behind a wife and five children, a relative and hospital officials said. John Butler Jr., 35, had been in critical condition at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in Augusta, said his aunt, Jeannette Brooks of Summerville...Butler was the 12th person to die as a result of the Feb. 7 accident in Port Wentworth, Ga. All told, 11 patients from the Imperial Sugar Co. were in critical condition on Tuesday, and another in serious condition, said Beth Frits, burn center communications director."

I truly feel for these families. There have now been 12 preventable deaths in just this one incident. I am truly disgusted and to be honest hurt. I was hurt after my brother's (Shawn Boone, 33 of the Hayes Lemmerz aluminum dust explosion) loss because the knowledge was out that could have saved him. There was no need for his loss or the loss of these twelve or injuries of the 12 left behind.

I am often ask how I deal with my loss and the only real response I have is the forgiveness of Hayes Lemmerz and OSHA for Shawn's death so I was not ate alive with hate and the grief process. I know this comes as a shock to many but that does not mean that I feel the action or lack of action has been, this is unforgivable. It is unforgivable because they have allowed these people and their families to suffer needlessly. These deaths, the anguish, injuries it's all on on their hands, this anguish.

Let me tell you the story behind the story in brief. This is of course from my experience but it transcends to the families of Imperial Sugar.

  1. Hayes Lemmerz never bothered to call any of the family members and let them know there was even a possibility that Shawn was hurt or that there was an explosion. We were called from Indiana (we reside in KY) by a friend of the family and told that Shawn was in rout to the Hospital to a Ft. Wayne burn unit.
  2. When we called around to find out where Shawn was we found that no one even bothered to identify him. So what we were told was there was a white, unidentified male admitted to the unit. Unidentified, So we proceeded to tell the nurse what Shawn looked like. she told us this male had no body hair and really no physical markings to identify. So my Shawn was identified by what his apparent body type would have been.
  3. We drove five hours after calling the rest of the family wondering if it was Shawn, hoping and praying as sad as it may seem that it wasn't Shawn. Which still brings about guilt because we would not wish this on anyone.
  4. We arrive only to be told that Shawn was being kept alive for us. The on site paster stopped us at old us to prepare ourselves adding he had not seen anything like this since the war.
  5. The doctors refused to treat Shawn's wounds saying even if they took his limbs and he made it his internal organs were burned beyond repair and this was apparent by the black sludge they were pumping from his body.
  6. I went in to see Shawn and maybe the unknowing couldn't identify him but he was still my Shawn. You can't spend a lifetime with someone and not know who they are. Shawn's face had been cleaned up and there were some small remnant's of his eyebrows...mostly because he had his back to the furnace it was a little protection from the first blast. His face was still very swollen and splitting, but he was my Bub.
  7. Now the talk of taking Shawn off of life support. This one is a tough one; if I do (agree and we all had to be in unison) I have ultimately given up on Shawn, I have taken his last breath weather there was there was no hope or the incident it's self was to blame I still have to make that decision. Watch them stop the machines and watch my younger brother die in before my eyes. We did take him off and we did stay to see his last breath. The two things I remember most are Shawn's last words, "I'm in a world of hurt." and his last breath. That's how I get through, that's how I continue to reminded myself it was the right decision.
I remain hurt and angry at the lack of compassion and concern by the corporations and OSHA. You, Them, I; it's all the same if this is allowed to continue. You see no matter how much time goes by and no matter what grief process you go through or help your family get through It Never Goes Away. It never fade the incident and the aftermath never dies! Our losses are a lifelong needless sentence because a few people couldn't or wouldn't take the time to do what was right. Because of greed and agenda and believe me I am the last person to complain about agendas heck I have list for my daily activities. We need agendas but the agendas need to be prosperous both Ethically and Morally.

Carolyn Merritt explains It is important to remember the human impact in this day long (in brief) Combustible Dust video after the NC, KY and In dust explosions in 2003
Excerpts from CSB Public Hearing on Hazards of Combustible Dust
Carolyn Merritt states, "I think it's important to recognize that at the beginning of this, we're going to be doing a lot of discussion talk about the technical events and the technical understanding of dust explosions throughout the rest of the day. And I think it's important to understand that each of these has a human impact. And that's indeed what we're trying to prevent, the human impact. The detail and the engineering and the science are interesting, but the outcome is how do we prevent these very tragic and very human-impacting -- both physically and economically, how do we prevent these events?"

The only way is to have standards and that is what the CSB ask of OSHA. You have to ask yourself why isn't there a standard? Why isn't there a standard to many know issues and when there is such as in Trenching why does it continue?

Well I guess you will just have to wait for the nest installment because I am pooped, it has been a long week and it is only Wednesday.

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