Another Explosion at Metal Powder Plant in Tennessee Seriously Injures Workers

May 27, 2011
Emergency crews are on the scene after a third serious incident at the Hoeganaes Corp. in Gallatin, Tenn. An explosion was reported at the plant at approximately 6:30 am this morning, with reports that five workers were injured. Three of the workers are listed in critical condition at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center burn unit in Nashville.

This is the third serious incident in four months at the facility, which produces atomized iron powder for industrial customers and employs approximately 180 people. A Jan. 31 flash fire fueled by combustible iron dust killed two mechanics at the plant, Vernon Corley and Wiley Sherburne, who were engulfed in flames when explosive dust ignited while they were fixing an elevator. Corley did not succumbed to his burn injuries until 6 days ago. A similar fire involving iron dust occurred on March 29 and caused one injury.

According to a company official, today’s accident took place in the vicinity of one of the facility’s furnaces.

At a news conference held in Nashville on May 11 about the two earlier incidents, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released laboratory test results showing that metal dust collected from various locations around the facility was combustible and capable of exploding when dispersed in air and confined. CSB Investigative Team Lead Johnnie Banks noted that the CSB team had observed significant quantities of accumulated metal dust on surfaces within close proximity to the incident locations and elsewhere throughout manufacturing areas, including on elevated surfaces.

The cause of the most recent incident has yet to be determined. A four-person investigation team from CSB has been dispatched to the scene, where occupational safety and emergency responders are investigating. Banks will lead the CSB’s investigation. The team will interview key witnesses, examine the incident scene and request relevant documents.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!