A Friday morning New Year's Eve explosion inside an auto parts plant in Blacksburg, Virginia (VA) injured four contract workers, including two who face potentially life-threatening injuries, reports The Virginian-Pilot. Our thoughts go out to the injured workers and their families. I'm sure they were expecting to finish a hard day's work and then enjoy New Years Eve with their families, now instead they are in the hospital.
Employees with Federal-Mogul, where the accident happened, drove by throughout the morning to see the damage, voicing concern about the explosive nature of aluminum dust.
A company spokesman said the aluminum dust is flammable, and that removing the dust was among the reasons for the routine cleaning. Contact between aluminum powder and ignition sources may create a severe explosion hazard which sounds like what caused the industrial accident at the auto parts plant.
Not only is the dust explosive but OSHA states that aluminum dust is an eye and respiratory tract irritant in humans. Some patients that have long-term aluminum exposure develop speech disorders, dementia, or convulsions. This syndrome is associated with increased concentration of aluminum in serum, brain, muscle, and bone. There is some evidence that Alzheimer's disease may be linked to aluminum content in the body. So even without the danger of explosions this was a hazardous substance.
As an injury lawyer who's represented people seriously injured in industrial accidents, I understand how certain work environments can be extremely dangerous for workers. The officials and employees who work in industries that deal with aluminum dust need to be especially cognizant of safety procedures and a proper response plan to an industrial accident to limit damage.