Plant explosions in two states leave four workers dead; OSHA investigating accidents

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by Eric Pearson

An explosion at the International Nutrition plant in Omaha, Nebraska killed 2 people and seriously injured at least 10 others, according to authorities investigating the incident. Some workers found themselves buried in debris and others scrambled for their lives. Firefighters rescued several of the 38 workers who were at the plant, including one who was cut out of the debris. The plant makes products that are added to livestock and poultry feed.

The January 20th explosion caused much of the manufacturing plant to collapse. Early reports indicate that key structural supports failed after the blast, and the second and third floors of the plant collapsed on top of the first floor. The explosion knocked out the lights in the building. The cause of the explosion is unknown. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the incident.

Meanwhile, on the same day, two workers died when a large industrial furnace exploded at a steel plant in Madill, Oklahoma. The furnace was used by Mid American Steel and Wire to melt down scrap metal which the plant turns into wire that is often used for fencing by farmers.

A statement issued by Mid-American’s sister company, Oklahoma Steel and Wire, provides:

On Monday January 20th, 2014, a tragic accident occurred at Mid American Steel and Wire. A violent reaction occurred at the Electric Arc Furnace resulting in two fatalities, two valuable team members of our company family. The team members we lost were Mr. Brody Davenport a second generation member of our organization and Mr. Gonzalo Martinez who also has many relatives working for our organization, both men have roots that run deep within our collective family. Our prayers and thoughts are with their families during this very difficult time. An accident investigation is currently underway both internally as well as with outside agencies such as OSHA & law enforcement. Company operations have been halted until further notice. We appreciate the patience of all those affected while we complete the investigation and deal with this tragic loss.

OSHA is also investigating the cause of this explosion, as well as whether any of its safety standards were violated.

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Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson were selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, for the years 2003 through 2014.