An explosion at a Bartlett Milling flour mill in North Carolina injured a worker Sunday, prompting a second ongoing investigation of a firm owned by Kansas City-based Bartlett and Company over workplace safety issues.
The explosion and flash fire in Statesville, N.C. occurred as the U.S. Department of Justice continues its investigation here into possible criminal charges in a separate 2011 blast that killed six workers at a Bartlett Grain elevator in Atchison, Kan.
Bartlett Milling and Bartlett Grain are separate companies. Both are owned by Bartlett and Company.
In April last year, federal workplace safety officials accused Bartlett of willfully ignoring workplace safety rules in the fatal Atchison blast, and proposed $406,000 in fines. They also recommended that the U.S. Attorney in Kansas investigate to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.
Sunday’s 8:38 a.m. explosion in Statesville occurred as workers were restoring power to the facility after making repairs to machinery in the mill’s basement, according to Dolores Quesenberry, a spokeswoman for the North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Division.
“The inspection will be treated like any type of explosion which would involve looking at combustible dust,” Quesenberry said. “The inspector will work to determine where the explosion occurred, what the possible ignition source was and what kind of control measures were in place to prevent this type of accident.”
Bartlett Milling officials said in a statement that the injured worker was driven to the hospital by a fellow employee and was reported in fair condition. “His well-being certainly is our first concern,” the company said.
Bartlett Milling added that the flour mill itself experienced little damage. “We are working with our experts as well as local authorities to assess exactly what happened,” the statement said.