Grain Elevator Explosion Kills Worker: Dangerous Conditions Continue
Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSH) authorities say an explosion at a northwest Indiana grain bin last week resulted in one fatality and two injuries, but everyone else at the site has been accounted for.
It took nearly a week to make the announcement because, for the first few days after the explosion, they were afraid of a recurrence. The explosion happened at the Union Mills Co-op, 50 miles southeast of Chicago. The blast was so strong, it shook houses and rattled windows for at least a half mile, and caused police to evacuate nearby homes. At first, authorities were concerned that fertilizer being stored nearby may have been the culprit that caused the explosion, and they were concerned with the possibility of smoldering grain and hot spots.
Investigators dropped a thermal imagine scope into the grain bin from the top, which had blown off, so they could take a look inside, and they indeed found hot spots. Worse, then they opened up the bin, the oxygen caused another fire to break out, and they weren’t able to get inside until a late night thunderstorm a couple of days later helped put out the fire once and for all, and made it safe to do so.
Their initial investigation ruled out the likelihood that fertilizer was a cause, when investigators found scorching on the housing of two conveyor system motors, one of which was in the basement, while the other was on a platform higher up. They have not been able to determine which motor may have been the ignition source, or if both were partially to blame. IOSH is conducting a comprehensive investigation into the explosion and the worker fatality, to determine what exactly happened.
The fatal victim has been identified as 67-year-old James Swank, who was an employee of the co-op. It is believed that he was working on top of the silo tower, when grain dust may have ignited, and the force of the resulting explosion may have caused him to plummet about 175 feet.
In addition to the fatalities, two other workers were injured. All other workers are accounted for, however, so IOSH expects no more casualties. A preliminary check of the IOSH database revealed no previous record of a plant inspection in response to an accident or complaint.
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed while working, please contact the Texas Worksite Injury Lawyers at Hill Law Firm as soon as possible, to protect your rights. Consultations are always free.