Last year, there was a dust collector explosion that injured an individual at Buchanan Lumber Company in Aliceville, Alabama. When the fire department and law enforcement arrived at the scene, the dust collector was fully engulfed in flames.
The employees stated that they simply turned the equipment on for a test run since it had not been used for a few months. However, it immediately exploded, and one person was injured.
The story garnered some headlines – and rightfully so – but if you work in certain industries, you already know there’s a risk of explosion using these collectors. Dust, as it turns out, is highly combustible. Most explosions happen when dust, oxygen, and an ignition source (like an electrical spark generated by turning on a collector) mix together. Therefore, when dust particles are flying through the air of a warehouse or factory, they can easily come into contact with a small spark, metal, or other ignition source, causing a high-pressure explosion.
What is a dust collector?
According to CPEF Filters, Inc., a dust collector is an air pollution system that is commonly found in warehouses, factories, plants, and more. The goal of these systems is to “control, reduce, and remove potentially harmful particulate matter and fumes from a manufacturing process or the air during production and manufacturing.” Therefore, a dust collector is used to filter dust that is released into the environment in hopes of improving and maintaining the overall air quality.
Different industries use different types of dust collectors. In fact, each dust collector is designed to fit the needs for specific industry types. Some of the most popular dust collector systems in workplaces across the United States are the shaker dust collector, cartridge collector, pulse jet dust collector, electrostatic precipitator, and the cyclone dust collector.
What types of industries create combustible dust?
The following are some of the many industries that create combustible dust:
- Manufacturing (including chemical manufacturing or compounding)
- Metal fabrication
- Agriculture (especially grain handling)
- Fossil fuel generation
According to the Alabama Department of Commerce, agriculture, forestry, metal work, and chemical, aerospace, and automotive manufacturers are some of the state’s leading industries – and all of them can create combustible dust. Huntsville is home to a number of aviation and aerospace companies, as well as food processing and metal fabrication businesses; it is safe to assume that our community faces these explosion risks as well.
Ways to prevent dust explosions in North Alabama
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed several common ways that employees and employers can prevent dust explosions. These include the following:
- Capture dust by using properly designed and installed dust collectors.
- Only contain dust in equipment and environments that can safely hold combustible dust.
- Keep all work areas clean to ensure that combustible dusts that were not captured are removed.
OSHA also states that it is the employer’s responsibility to determine if any type of dust is combustible. If it is, they must take action to protect their employees from fires and explosions.
Common injuries caused by explosions
Any explosive blasts are very dangerous to people close by. These types of accidents usually lead to death or severe, catastrophic injuries. If you are fortunate to survive a dust explosion, you may suffer from the following injuries:
- Skull and head fractures
- Broken, crushed, fractured bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Chest injuries
- Abdominal injuries
- Pelvic injuries
- Amputations or loss of limbs
- Back or spinal cord injuries
- Burn injuries
- Inhalation injuries from fumes, smoke, and dust
- Internal injuries
- Cuts or lacerations
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Vision loss
- Hearing loss
- Nerve and tissue damage
How a Huntsville injury lawyer can help
If you have been injured in a dust explosion at work, a Huntsville lawyer from Martin & Helms would be happy to assist you. Our attorneys will schedule a meeting with you to hear about your accident, assess the facts of your case, and begin collecting evidence to build a strong argument against the defendant.
While you are out of work recovering from your injuries, you may also qualify for workers’ compensation. We understand that you need all the financial assistance you can get during this difficult time. Therefore, our attorneys will help you file a workers’ compensation claim, submit the proper paperwork and documents, and fight for your right to obtain the benefits you deserve.
What is the value of my dust explosion accident and injuries?
Combustible dust explosions can lead to severe or fatal injuries. To make matters worse, most dust explosions are preventable when the proper safety measures are taken before each shift begins. Therefore, if you have been involved in a dust explosion accident, you may be able to recover compensation for your:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Emotional trauma and mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Home modifications
- Loss of quality of life
If you have suffered injuries from a dust explosion and need legal assistance, our lawyers at Martin & Helms are available to assist you. While investigating explosions can be difficult and time-consuming, our attorneys are equipped with the necessary skills, experience, and knowledge to successfully do this as quickly as possible. Call our office or submit our contact form to schedule a free consultation today. Our team proudly helps injured clients in and around Huntsville, Decatur, Madison, and Athens.
Choosing the right personal injury attorney is an important step in building a better future. You deserve a lawyer who works one-on-one with you, and who can develop a plan for you to move forward. When you choose Martin & Helms, you get Clay Martin and Tara Helms: experienced, compassionate counselors who put your best interests first. We invite you to read more about us.