Statesville Explosion Injures Maintenance Worker

During a recent explosion at a flour mill in Statesville, one worker was injured. According to WCNC, a wall collapsed in the 8:30 a.m. explosion. Accident reports indicate that it happened as two maintenance workers were fixing a piece of equipment located in the basement of the Bartlett Milling Co. on South Center Street.
When one of the workers turning the power back on, a spark was ignited and a flash fire resulted. The second man, who was located in the basement, was injured in the accident. Luckily, his coworker was able to get him out of the building in time. He was transported to Iredell Memorial and then later taken to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Our Statesville workers’ compensation lawyers understand that this three-alarm fire caused one of the building’s walls to collapse. Unfortunately, that made it difficult to contain the fire after the blast. There were roughly 25 people working in another area of that building. They were able to get out safely.

The truth of the matter is there is combustible material found in many workplaces. This material can burn rapidly. If this kind of dust is suspended in the air at the right concentration, in the right conditions, in can become explosive. Beware: materials that aren’t even flammable or do not burn in larger pieces (like iron or aluminum) can explode in the proper conditions.

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), the force from these kinds of explosions can cause some serious damage. These explosions can oftentimes kill people, cause serious injures and destroy entire buildings.

Remember the West Virginia titanium dust explosion back in 2010 that killed 3 workers? Or the sugar dust explosion back in 2008 that killed 14 workers? From 1980 to 2005, officials with the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) found more than 280 combustible dust accidents. These accidents lead to close to 120 worker fatalities and more than 715 employee injuries. These explosions also cause some serious damage to a number of industrial facilities.

What materials are combustible? Believe it or not, food is combustible, including feed, flour, starch, spice, sugar and candy, grain, fossil fuel, metals, coal, dyes, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, textiles, furniture, rubber, pulp, paper, wood, plastics and tobacco.

Employees are the first line of defense in preventing and mitigating explosions and fires. If the workers who are closest to the source of the danger/hazard are trained to recognize and prevent the risks associated with combustible dust in the workplace they can be key in recognizing unsafe conditions, taking preventative action, and/or alerting management. All of these steps can help to save lives and prevent workplace damage.

Currently, there are OSHA standards that require certain workers to be properly trained, but it’s important to make sure that all workers are trained in safe work practices applicable to their job tasks. This means that they should also be trained on the overall plant programs for dust control and ignition source control. Workers should be trained before they start the job with your company, periodically to refresh their knowledge, when they are reassigned on the job and when hazards or processes change.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a work accident, contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at the Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.

More Blog Entries:

North Carolina Construction Site Kills Two Young Residents, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, April 16, 2013

Amputations Underestimated in Carolina Workplaces, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, April 14, 2013

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