Several OSHA investigators have been interviewing plant workers to find out what caused a grain elevator in Atchison, KS, to explode. The explosion killed six workers.
The blast at the Bartlett Grain Co. facility blew a two- to three-story structure called a head house off the top of the 125-foot grain elevator. Area residents reported feeling and hearing the explosion up to four miles away. People in Missouri saw the fireball.
Those killed ranged in ages from 20 to 43.
Two more workers were seriously injured and were flown to the University of Kansas Hospital’s burn unit. Four more employees who were at the facility escaped unharmed or with minor injuries.
Atchison city officials released a statement noting that dust from milled grain can be explosive under certain conditions, especially during dry weather.
OSHA’s Grain Handling Facilities Standard took effect in 1987. By 2003, the number of explosions dropped by 42% and explosion-related fatalities fell by 70%.