An explosion at a Bartlett Grain Co. LP facility in Kansas in October 2011 claimed the lives of six workers and injured two others. The blast destroyed much of the facility and shot a fireball into the sky of Atchison, Kansas that was visible from miles away.
The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspected the facility following the accident and has since wrapped up its investigation of the grain processing facility. OSHA cited Bartlett Grain with 13 safety violations that are either “serious” or “willful.” The violations include allowing grain dust to accumulate, removing the dust without shutting down the ignition sources, repeatedly starting and stopping ignition sources, and using inappropriate electrical equipment. The proposed fines total $406,000. Grain dust is extremely flammable and hazardous—the dust ultimately caused the explosion in an elevator shaft.
“The deaths of these six workers could have been prevented had the grain elevator’s operators addressed the hazards that are well known in this industry,” said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
Employers have a duty to protect workers, especially when it comes to hazardous materials such as grain dust. Bartlett Grain said in a released statement that it strongly disagreed with OSHA’s ruling. It will have 15 days to request an OSHA hearing or agree to pay the fine.
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