Wisconsin Personal Injury Blog

Jun
08
2017

Fighting for Justice in Ethanol Plant Explosions

In a devastating incident, four workers died and several more were injured after a massive explosion late on May 31 at an ethanol production plant in Cambria, WI – with officials remaining on the scene into June 1.

According to several news sources, the blast occurred around 11 PM at Didion Milling, causing power outages in Cambria and nearby Randolph and damage to concrete storage silos. At the time of the blast, 17 workers were on premises; several crews of policemen and first responders rushed those injured to neighboring University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison. Though officials have not conclusively identified the cause of the blast, some workers were permitted to return to work at the mill complex as early as Monday.

A 44 year veteran of the corn milling industry, Didion Milling was cited in 2011 by federal safety inspectors for failing to protect workers from dust explosion hazards. A likely cause of the May 31 incident, dust explosions are a major safety concern in the grain industry, occurring when highly combustible particles such as grain or flour combine with oxygen or other gasses. Keeping facilities clear of dust significantly reduces the probability of igniting dust and causing an explosion.

According to records from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Didion Milling was cited and subsequently fined $3,500 for failing to implement proper explosion protective systems that would significantly reduce the risk of dust explosions. Though the case was closed in 2013 and no further citations were issued to Didion since then, it’s reasonable to speculate that improperly contained dust may have contributed to the explosion that took four innocent lives and injured several others. The explosion at Didion joins a list of five other explosions that have occurred in the last year alone, according to an independent study conducted at Purdue University.

While these incidents are thankfully rare, they are helpful in raising awareness of a major risk specific to the ethanol and milling industries. Perhaps most importantly, however, cases such as these illuminate an even bigger problem of workplace accidents caused by negligence and management’s failure to meet proper safety protocols – leading to very real consequences for employees.

Workplace accident cases such as the unfortunate incident at Didion Milling are often complicated and can very quickly become a case of David vs Goliath. Without the guidance of a dedicated and knowledgeable legal team, a victim of a workplace accident can become confused by their rights pursuant to Worker’s Compensation laws and may not even be aware of how much compensation to which they are entitled.

Experienced attorneys like us know that compensation can go beyond the limits of Worker’s Compensation. We will work for you to identify and investigate potential third parties – outside of your employer – that can be held responsible for injuries and damages.

At Techmeier Law Firm, we have direct case experience with ethanol plant explosion deaths & injuries, and can provide the legal “slingshot” necessary to defeat giants and mete out justice on behalf of all victims of a workplace accident. If you are a victim of a workplace accident or ethanol plant explosion such as the incident at Didion Milling, let us help you receive the compensation you deserve.

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