2 dead, 10 injured on the job in feed factory blast

Employers in agriculture-heavy states may worry more about farm- and ranch-related safety concerns. Oklahoma business owners know that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides special programs for protecting workers in grain silos and other agricultural structures. Despite all of the programs in place to prevent a workplace accident, agricultural employees are still frequently injured at work. In one recent case, two Nebraska workers died during an explosion at an animal feed processing plant on Jan. 20.

Official reports showed that the explosion at the International Nutrition plant is still under investigation, as hazardous chemicals are not kept at the three-story facility. The company produces nutritional products that supplement feed for livestock and poultry. The explosion was so severe that supports for the second and third floors collapsed. At least one man actually had to be cut out of the plant debris during rescue. OSHA officials will conduct a formal investigation into the incident, but the findings may not be released for several weeks.

Rescuers responding to the blast were hindered by the dangerous condition of the building, along with strong winds and bitterly cold temperatures. In all, two victims died, 10 were sent to the hospital and several others suffered minor injuries. It appears that only one of the decedents' bodies was recovered; a search effort will continue for the second victim's remains. Workers at the plant were understandably unnerved by the blast, with many calling friends and family members in a panic after witnessing the explosion. The blast occurred in a rural area with only a few industrial businesses nearby.

Agricultural producers and manufacturers are responsible for protecting their workers from workplace injury accidents. In this case, victims of the blast may be able to recover workers' compensation funds from the company, as the business may be considered negligent based on the results of the OSHA investigation. Workers who are injured on the job should not be burdened by unfair medical costs and lost income. For victims who are struggling financially after a workplace accident, a consultation with a qualified Oklahoma attorney may be the best solution.

Source:  News9.com, "Fatalities reported in Omaha plant explosion" Josh Funk, Jan. 20, 2014

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