A number of industries require the use of caustic and reactive chemicals in order to manufacture their end products. While careful handling, worker education and other safety measures generally prevent workers from becoming injured, unfortunately accidents still do occur. Late last month, a small explosion at a factory in Pennsylvania harmed two employees as they were combining certain chemicals.

According to information from the local fire department, the plant where the workplace accident occurred is in the business of providing the military with oxygen generators. In the days after the incident, investigators were still searching for what set off the explosion. The fire chief indicated that red phosphorus was among the chemicals that the workers were dealing with at the time of the blast.

People at the plant acted quickly and immediately called for emergency responders, who arrived and airlifted the two workers to a Pittsburgh hospital. Once there, one worker received care for inhalation of some of the chemicals, while the other underwent treatment for an injured hand. Reports indicate that the violence of the explosion may have been severe enough to cause the second worker to lose a few fingers. The toxicity of the chemicals involved was not stated, and the timetable for the workers’ recovery is not known.

Workplace injuries of all sorts can be a significant burden on those that suffer them. Depending on the degree of the injury, workers may have to make temporary or permanent adjustments to their lives. In addition, there is a financial impact. Workers’ compensation can help cover the costs of medical treatment and lost wages, however.

Source: Associated Press, “2 workers hurt in small blast at Pa. chemical firm,” June 27, 2012.