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Explosion at farm supply business obliterates portion of town

While incidents resulting in illness or injury occur on a regular basis at workplaces throughout the nation, in most cases those incidents are minor or due to repeated behavior or exposure. This is true at workplaces in Western Pennsylvania as well. From time to time there are larger incidents that result in either injury or death to workers however. An industrial accident that may fall into that category occurred earlier this month in another state.

An explosion occurred in a farm supply business located in a small town in Texas. The explosion devastated not only the workplace but much of the town as well. It left at least 12 individuals dead and injured another 200. Though not clear, it is possible that some of the employees of the business may have been working and injured in the incident. If that is the case they may be able to seek workers' compensation benefits while they heal.

The farm supply business carried things that farmers need to successfully run their farms including fertilizer and other chemical products. A couple of products available for purchase were anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate. In certain situations each of these substances can be flammable. In the case of the anhydrous ammonia the problem arises when the chemical is combined with heat causing the vapors to explode. Ammonium nitrate could also explode.

Many businesses throughout the country that handle hazardous substances are required by to have safety plans in place should problems arise. The last time the farm supply business was investigated, a couple years ago, it was fined for not having any plan in place. It is not yet clear what caused this incident to occur or whether a plan was in place at the time.

Source: Reuters, "Investigators seek cause of Texas blast that killed at least 12," Carey Gillam and Corrie MacLaggan, April 19, 2013

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