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Family still struggling a year after welding fatality

Last week, we discussed how dangerous welding can be. Sometimes it is difficult to fully appreciate the magnitude of the danger with mere statistics. However, true stories of workers and families who have suffered can help us understand and sympathize.

In December 2014, a 36-year-old Mexican immigrant was providing for his family by working as a welder and making $20 an hour. He had hopes of starting his own welding company someday.

While working at a jobsite two stories below Thanksgiving Tower in Dallas, the man told his wife how dangerous the working conditions were, but he continued to show up each day.

One of these days, a fire broke out and the man and two others were trapped inside of a deep chiller tank. They had no recourse against the blaze except for buckets that they filled with water, which partially melted from the heat. All three died as a result of smoke inhalation.

As it turned out, the deep chiller tanks were essentially a death trap without proper safety measures. It was determined that the fire broke out either when sparks landed on the plastic floor liner or because of "an unknown gas."

An investigation also revealed that Thanksgiving Tower did not have a permit for the hot work, and the contractor and subcontractor were also missing valid permits.

More than a year has passed since the accident, and the man's wife and four children are still feeling the loss in major ways. In a recent interview with the Dallas News, the man's wife pointed out that workplace fatalities like these claim more than just workers.

"You don't lose just an employee, you lose a father a son, a brother, a friend. You lose security for their children," the woman said.

The woman and surviving families of the other victims have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the contractors and other companies involved. Hopefully, they will be justly compensated for the grave losses they have suffered.

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