(Canadian OH&S News) — An explosion and subsequent fire at an industrial facility in Sarnia, Ont. left several employees hospitalized on Oct. 25. One of the workers died of his injuries two days later.
The incident took place at a plant belonging to Veolia Environmental Services, an international company that uses propane and oxygen to conduct thermal spraying of aluminum. According to information from the provincial Ministry of Labour (MOL), a dust collection system outside of the building exploded and caused structural damage in the middle of the afternoon.
“Five workers were injured in the incident, including two who were critically injured,” confirmed MOL media representative Bruce Skeaff. “Emergency services were dispatched and attended the scene. The five injured workers were transported to hospital.” One of the critically injured parties was subsequently airlifted from Sarnia’s Bluewater Health hospital to a London hospital for further treatment.
Eight workers in total were inside the building at the time of the blast, according to media reports.
Skeaff added that MOL inspectors, firefighters and officials from the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office had also attended the scene of the explosion. “A City of Sarnia engineer attended the scene and declared the building unsafe to enter,” he said.
The MOL issued a requirement to Veolia not to disturb the scene of the incident, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The fire was extinguished the next day, and a forensics investigator examined the scene as well.
Carol Gravelle, public relations officer with the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFM), told COHSN that the office had seized evidence at the site as exhibits for testing offsite. The OFM “worked with the Ministry of Labour, the coroner’s office, local police and local fire” to investigate the origins of the explosion, Gravelle said.
On Oct. 27, Const. Les Jones of the Sarnia Police Service (SPS) announced in a press release that one critically injured employee — the one who had been airlifted — had died earlier that morning. “Sarnia Police Service will not be releasing his name,” Const. Jones added.
A media statement from Veolia, issued on Oct. 26, said that the company was cooperating fully with the MOL and other authorities in their investigations. “The employees of Veolia are deeply concerned for our co-workers,” the statement read, “and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time.”
The MOL continues to investigate, as do the SPS and offsite investigators with the OFM.