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Companies are responsible for more than just training employees on working in dangerous situations. They are also responsible for maintaining a safe working environment and providing safe materials for employees to work with. If fire and gas detection systems are outdated or even nonexistent, the risk of worker injury rises.
Numerous employees were injured as the result of an explosion on March 7 at The American Steel Foundries steel castings plant in Granite City, Illinois, outside of St. Louis. According to the Associated Press, at least 10 people were injured in the blast and three sustained critical injuries. About 800 people work at the plant that produces railroad car undercarriages and other related parts. The explosion reportedly occurred in the cleaning-and-finishing department.
Firefighters responded to the 8 a.m. call requesting response teams, the Los Angeles Times reported. Employees at the plant said they believed the explosion was due to natural gas. Granite City Fire Chief Tim Connolly said firefighters investigated the incident for an hour after they arrived on the scene.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will launch an investigation into the cause of the explosion and determine if any federal workplace safety regulations were being violated at the facility, according to the Times.
Several employees suffered smoke inhalation and were taken to Gateway Regional Medical Center for treatment. Two employees were critically injured and were reportedly receiving treatment for burns of varying degrees as a result of the explosion, according to the Times.
This incident was not the first time the fire department was dispatched to American Steel. The fire chief told the Times firefighters have dealt with various situations before but that none were as devastating in regards to employee injuries.
OSHA's previous investigations of American Steel
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, OSHA previously investigated American Steel after the federal agency received complaints. No violations were reported as a result of the 2011 and 2012 investigations. However, the news source did report two workers were burned at the plant in August 2005. The two workers reportedly suffered superficial burns as a result of the molten steel spill from inside the plant.
Industrial Safety News brought to you by Safety Systems Technology, Inc., leaders in fire and gas detection systems.