Bostik Inc. reported yesterday that they had determined the cause of their plant´s explosion and 4-alarm fire at their adhesive manufacturing plant in Middleton on March 14. They asserted that the explosion which injured four of their workers was due to open valves that let flammable gas permeate throughout the building. In a press release, they reported that “Findings point to a single instance in which two internal valves in an open position appear to have allowed flammable vapors to escape into the building and ignite when exposed to an internal ignition source.”
However, after meeting with Bostik representatives yesterday, state officials and investigators are hesitant to accept this explanation as a definitive cause. State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said Bostik’s explanation is not an official ruling and that the incident is still being investigated: “Our investigators met with the company and other agencies and were able to obtain additional information…But we are not commenting on nor are we confirming the cause as released by the company…”
The continuing investigation into the cause of the explosion and fire is led by State Fire Marshal Coan´s office and local fire officials. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials are investigating the plant´s workplace safety. OSHA requires such manufacturing companies to have specific procedures to control the accumulation of flammable and combustible material. OSHA also requires the regular maintenance and monitoring of any heat-producing equipment in order to prevent the accidental ignition of flammable material.
Residents nearby the plant complained of an earthquake-like boom due to the explosion and a strong chemical odor in the aftermath. State Fire Marshal Coan confirmed that shortly after the explosion, the haz-mat team had determined that there was no airborne environmental hazard. Local environmental officials were, however, concerned about the possible chemical contamination to the Ipswich River. The location of the plant is situated close to the Middleton, Peabody, and Lynn town lines.
Workplace explosions affect not only the workers but also the residents that surround the workplace facility. Injuries from explosions are not always limited to on the job site workers. When someone is injured on the job they are entitled to workers compensation benefits. These benefits vary depending on the severity of the injury. In addition, if someone happens to be injured on the job and the injury is caused by a third party, that worker may be able to make an additional claim for damages. If you are not sure if you have a third party negligence claim it may be in your best interest to contact a work injury attorney to fully understand your rights.
In addition as in the case above, when there is an explosion on the worksite often times OSHA is called in to see if there were any safety violations in the workplace. While we do not know what OSHA’s findings will be yet on, their findings can impact an injured worker’s injury claim.
If you have been injured in the workplace, it is best advised that you contact an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer.
State and company officials discuss Middleton blast, The Boston Globe, May 24, 2011
Bostik Provides Update on the March 13 Incident to Local Agencies, Bostik, Inc., Press Release
Fire Prevention Plans, Standard 1910.39, Occupational Safety and Health Administration
OSHA investigating Middleton plant blast, The Boston Globe, March 16, 2011
4 hurt in blast, fire at factory, The Boston Globe, March 14, 2011
Contact a Massachusetts work injury lawyer if you have been injured in the workplace.