May 5, 2014

Plant Explosion Injures Plywood Workers

A Texas factory was the scene of an explosion on April 28, according to this story: 7 Injured in Texas Plant Explosion, Fire. The plywood manufacturer north of Houston was the scene of the horrific fire that injured workers. It took two hours to extinguish the blaze.

A spokesman for Georgia Pacific said the workers who were injured suffered serious burns but there was no loss of life. Three workers were taken to a Houston hospital and three were hospitalized in nearby Lufkin.

Plywood manufacturers are often the scene of serious injuries to workers.

According to click to Houston, the fire started in a bagroom, which is like a silo and collects dust.

Eric Abercrombie, spokesman for the company, said “The doors on the circumference of the building were designed to release the buildup of energy. It did that, they vented out. The dust inside is made of wood, it’s combustible. So, there was a buildup. We’re not sure what caused that, we’re in the process of investigating that.”

While the OSHA investigation is underway, the plant has stopped operating. About 400 workers are employed there.

According to the OSHA website:

Any combustible material can burn rapidly when in a finely divided form. If such a dust is suspended in air in the right concentration, under certain conditions, it can become explosible. Even materials that do not burn in larger pieces (such as aluminum or iron), given the proper conditions, can be explosible in dust form.

The force from such an explosion can cause employee deaths, injuries, and destruction of entire buildings. For example, 3 workers were killed in a 2010 titanium dust explosion in West Virginia, and 14 workers were killed in a 2008 sugar dust explosion in Georgia. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) identified 281 combustible dust incidents between 1980 and 2005 that led to the deaths of 119 workers, injured 718, and extensively damaged numerous industrial facilities.

Have you been injured in a dust explosion, or as a result of working in a wood processing plant? If you or someone you know thinks they have suffered such an injury, Nate Hansford can help. Contact Nate by phone at 770-922-3660.