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What caused explosion at North Carolina mill that injured worker?

Emergency officials recently responded to a three-alarm fire at a flour mill in North Carolina. When they arrived at the scene, they discovered that an explosion had resulted in a workplace injury. As a result, one man was rushed to a hospital for treatment.

Just before the explosion, two mill workers were performing maintenance on a piece of machinery. After they completed their work, one man went to turn the power back on. As he did so, an explosion -- so powerful that it knocked a wall down -- was triggered by an electrical spark.

At this point, local authorities are investigating the incident, since it is not exactly certain what caused the explosion. The hope is that the company that operates the plant will cooperate with the investigation and do what needs to be done to deal with the incident and prevent similar accidents in the future.

Over the last several years, a number of workplace injuries and fatalities have been caused by dust explosions in a variety of industrial settings. Although it's not clear that dust was the culprit in this North Carolina incident, it's possible that dust collected throughout the facility as a natural consequence of milling grain into flour. In work settings where dust could become a safety hazard, employers should take steps to prevent such accidents.

While the injured worker is recovering from his injuries, he may be able to receive workers' compensation benefits from his employer. Although he may be entitled to benefits, his claim could be denied. As such, it may be in his best interest to explore all available options to help him through these painful days.

Source: WCNC News, "Employee injured in Statesville flour mill explosion," Kathleen Purvis, April 7, 2013

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