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Explosion at grain elevator kills six workers

In several previous posts, we've discussed some of the accidents that can occur in grain elevators. These types of incidents can result in serious injuries or fatalities among grain workers. When it comes to work environments, grain elevators can be dangerous.

A few weeks ago, a devastating explosion occurred in a grain elevator, killing six workers. This is not the first time that an explosion like this has happened. According to OSHA, over 600 explosions have occurred at grain elevators in the past 40 years. These explosions have caused hundreds of fatalities and even more injuries.

This most recent explosion is still being investigated by OSHA and other federal agencies. Likely they are trying to determine how the explosion occurred and whether it could have been prevented.

We've seen how workers can get crushed by the grain itself. But explosions typically occur for a different reason. Grain elevators are for grain storage and when the grain is being moved for whatever reason, grain particles are in the air. These particles are highly combustible and can ignite with even the tiniest spark.

Once the dust is ignited, it can set off a chain reaction and result in a facility-wide explosion. That may have been this case in this particular explosion. However the investigation will likely take some time before officials can definitively make a statement.

Workplace accidents such as this one can have a wide effect on a number of individuals. Obviously the workers themselves are impacted, especially if they sustain injuries as a result. But families of workers are also affected by a workplace accident, especially if they lost a loved one as a result.

Source: Associated Press: "Risky grain elevator jobs attract young workers," John Hanna, Nov. 1, 2011

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