Fatal explosion at Bartlett Grain Company

published in McAfee & Taft RegLINC | November 2011

By Vickie Buchanan

On Saturday, October 29, 2011, an explosion at a grain elevator owned by Bartlett Grain Company in Atchison, Kansas, killed six people and sent two others to the University of Kansas Hospital with burn injuries. The explosion occurred while workers were loading a train with corn.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), explosions at grain elevators are a leading hazard. When grain is handled at elevators, dust particles are created and float around inside the storage facility. The finer the grain dust particles, the greater its volatility, with dust particles from corn being the most dangerous. OSHA reports that more than 600 explosions have occurred at grain elevators over the past six decades resulting in more than 250 fatalities and more than 1,000 injuries. In 2010, there were grain explosions or fires in Louisiana, South Dakota, Illinois, Ohio and Nebraska.

OSHA is conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the explosion and whether Bartlett Grain Company violated any applicable laws or regulations.