Two Plant Explosions in One Day: Four Workers Die – How Safe Are You Working on the Job?


Two Plant Explosions in One Day: Four Workers Die – How Safe Are You Working on the Job?

On Monday, plant workers all across the country got up and went to work just as they do every morning here in Indiana and Illinois and elsewhere. Some of these plants are more dangerous than others, some of the jobs within those plants have a higher risk of injury or death than others. And all these plant workers depend upon their workplaces to be safe — as do their families and loved ones.

However, each year in the United States people die while working on the job. Sometimes these are true accidents; in other instances, there are failures to maintain safety controls or federal regulatory standards.

No one knows what happened in either Omaha, Nebraska, or Madill, Oklahoma, yet — facts are still coming in on exactly what happened to cause two explosions in the two plants yesterday. Many are still reeling from the shock that this has happened, and it’s especially shocking that these two huge explosions occurred in two plant facilities both happened on the same day.

Omaha, Nebraska Plant Explosion Kills Two Workers, Injures 10 Workers

In Omaha, an animal feed plant operated by International Nutrition had 38 workers on the job when there was a sudden explosion yesterday morning. After the explosion, a fire erupted at the facility. Part of the plant’s structure collapsed but only after two workers had perished.  Four workers were taken to the hospital and listed in critical condition. Another 6 workers were also seriously hurt in the accident.

The Nebraska plant was dedicated to making animal feed from grain. Grain is known to be volatile (see our earlier post on the risks of working around grain here). International Nutrition is in the business of manufacturing feed products as well as nutritional supplements for animals and grain is a component of the plant’s manufacturing process.

Madill, Oklahoma Industrial Accident Kills Two Workers, Injures Another

That same afternoon, in Madill, Oklahoma, a steel plant went up in flames after a furnace blew up. Two steel workers were killed in the blast and another worker was taken to the hospital for burn injuries. No one knows what caused this furnace failure at the Mid American Steel and Wire facility, and it’s not expected that there will be any final conclusions from investigators for several weeks.

The steel industry has a longstanding reputation for being a dangerous work environment. For more, read our post “The Courage That’s Needed to Work in Steel Mills.”

OSHA Investigating Both Plant Explosions

Today, along with state and local authorities, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating exactly what happened to cause these two plant explosions. Reports from OSHA on compliance or failure to comply with federal regulations as a cause for the accidents, as well as other investigations by arson experts and others, are all in process.

What happens after that? The victims and their families may receive benefits from workers’ compensation, life insurance, and other standard avenues that provide help in these tragic circumstances. However, if there was a wrong done here — if there was a failure of a product or a person or a company that caused these explosions and fires, then there may be wrongful death lawsuits filed as well as claims for product liability, etc.

Still, the better result would be, of course, that these horrible explosions had never happened. For everyone working in an industrial environment today, this news should be a good reminder to make sure that your work environment is current with OSHA standards and other safety regulations designed to keep workers in these dangerous areas safe.

Be careful out there.

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