Worker Hurt in Plastic Plant Blast

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 @ 11:09 AM gHale

A Primex Plastics Corp. worker burned after an explosion when an electric arc made contact with dust in the air Sept.24 at the company’s Mesquite, NV, plant will recover, company officials said.

The worker suffered the injury Sept. 24 when there was an arc associated with an electrical panel he was working on at the plastic sheet extrusion facility, company and local fire officials report.

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“We did have an injured worker,” said Tim Schultz, vice president of sales and marketing for Primex said Sept. 25. “He’s going to be OK.”

Mesquite Fire Chief Kash Christopher described the accident as an explosion, but Schultz questioned whether there was an actual explosion.

“It did cause a disruption,” said Schultz. “We’re still looking at what exactly happened.”

This is how Christopher described the accident: “They were working on an electrical panel, and when they fired it up, the panel arced. And when it arced, the explosive mixture with the dust in the air ignited, causing the explosion and then causing the fire to go up the wall,” he said.

“The occupants … put the fire out with four extinguishers. So by the time we got there, the fire was already out,” the fire chief.

It was about five minutes between the time the fire was called in and when firefighters arrived, Christopher said.

The Primex employee ended up transported by medical helicopter to University Medical Center in Las Vegas with burns on his face and upper torso, the fire chief said. “The injury was pretty serious.”

Schultz said the employee, whose identity was not immediately available, will recover from his burns. “Fortunately, he’s going to be OK. It’s a tragic thing that something happened,” the company official said.

Primex continued work in other parts of the plant after the accident. “They let us continue operating with the other machines when they were doing their sweep of the building,” Schultz said.

Christopher said his department was continuing its investigation of the mishap.

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