Pennsylvania companies know that they have to invest in research and development in order to grow and remain competitive in their respective industries. New technologies can be dangerous, however, and accidents sometimes happen while companies tinker with and perfect their products. Last week, an explosion rocked a General Motors research building that was performing tests on a new generation of electric car batteries.

Eighty workers were removed from the building. Five needed medical attention, and one required treatment at a hospital. That person endured skin damage from exposure to chemicals released in the workplace accident. He also suffered a concussion from the high-energy explosion, which blew out windows and took an eight-inch solid door off of its hinges.

GM already manufactures the Chevrolet Volt, and had engaged in a recent major expansion of its Technical Center, the building where the company performs tests on its batteries. While GM would not commit to pinpointing a cause of the explosion, the local fire department stated that hydrogen sulfide gas was the culprit. GM said the blast occurred during what it termed “extreme testing.” GM credits its workers and the local fire department for responding quickly and preventing further harm.

The development and production of certain products can involve the use of caustic and harmful chemicals. Workers and their employers should take proper precautions to ensure a safe work environment. Unfortunately, accidents do occur. Injured workers can use workers’ compensation to help with medical costs and with lost wages due to time away from the job.

Source: CBSNews.com, “‘Major explosion’ at GM plant near Detroit,” Bailey Johnson, April 11, 2012.