The Wisconsin Rapids Tribune has reported that a coal dust flash fire or explosion occurred at the NewPage paper mill in Biron, Wisconsin. Three workers, one from NewPage, and two from an industrial cleaning company, Hydroblasters, were injured when maintenance work was being performed on a machine used to filter coal dust. The article indicates two of the workers have been released from the hospital, while the third has been flown by helicopter to receive medical care in Madison. We wish them all a speedy recovery. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Combustible dust, such as coal particles, can be extremely volatile, particularly when airborne. However, precautions can often be taken to minimize the risk of such an event. Safety consultants Chilworth Global have helped us to determine the cause of a flash fire/explosion in a case we are currently handling for an injured client. They specialize in preventing accidents of this kind. Hopefully safety measures can be implemented to ensure that an incident like this never happens again.