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8 EVRAZ Workers Injured in Colorado Steel Mill Explosion


An explosion at a Pueblo, Colorado, steel mill left 8 workers injured over Memorial Day weekend, including 3 people rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

EVRAZ Explosion Involved Arc Furnace Used to Melt Steel

First responders received reports of an explosion at the EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel Plant, located at 2100 South Fwy Road in Pueblo, around 6:00 p.m. local time on Saturday, May 29th.

The blast apparently involved an electric arc furnace used to melt steel. As a result, firefighters had to wait for 130 tons of molten steel inside the furnace to cool before attempting to extinguish the resulting fire. By the time the blaze was brought under control, it had spread to three different levels of the facility.

“Got a call about the smoke at the mill,” United Steelworkers Local 2102 President Eric Ludwig told KOAA News5. “They were waiting on the ambulances to double back. They didn’t have enough to take everyone, so they took the more critical ones first.”

EVRAZ Steel Mill Explosion Injuries Include Cuts, Burns, and Breathing Issues

Eight workers were injured in the blast, including one man taken to a burn unit in Denver. Six others traveled via ambulance to Parkview Hospital in Pueblo, and another worker drove himself to the emergency room.

EVRAZ’s vice president of operations told News5 that the injured employees were being treated for dust inhalation and that some may have also suffered some cuts and bruises. But one of the victims disputed that account.

“Burns, cuts, breathing issues due to the dust in the air. That’s the main stuff,” the worker said. “It definitely wasn’t a minor explosion like some have said.”

Ludwig confirmed that two of the injured workers were admitted to the ICU. A total of three remain hospitalized in critical condition, with all expected to survive. However, it’s not clear if they’ll ever be able to return to their jobs.

EVRAZ Pueblo Has History of OSHA Violations

In 2018, EVRAZ North America produced more than 2.1 million tons of flat, long, and tubular steel products for major markets, including infrastructure, defense, energy, and rail. The  EVRAZ steel mill in Pueblo, Colorado, manufacturers a variety of products, including rail, seamless pipe, rod, and coiled reinforcing bar.

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, EVRAZ North America operates five additional steel manufacturing plants in the United States and Canada, including Portland, Oregon; Regina, Saskatchewan; and Calgary, Camrose, and Red Deer, Alberta.

According to KRDO-13, the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has issued 19 citations to the EVRAZ mill in Pueblo for numerous safety violations in just the past decade, including a March 2017 steam explosion.

“Employees were exposed to explosion and struck-by hazards,” federal inspectors wrote in the 2017 report.

In July 2016, OSHA ordered EVRAZ to pay $103,820 for 10 serious safety violations at the Pueblo mill, along with one repeat violation.

“EVRAZ needs to involve their workers in identifying and correcting hazardous conditions to ensure more effective safety and health management systems,” OSHA’s Area Director David Nelson said at the time. “EVRAZ needs to fix these hazards before someone is injured or worse.”

In March 2011, OSHA ordered EVRAZ to pay $49,900 for one repeat violation, five serious violations, and two other violations following a safety inspection of the Pueblo facility’s seamless tube mill.

“EVRAZ failed to provide its employees with a safe and healthful workplace,” said then-OSHA area office director John Healy. “The hazards uncovered during this investigation are well recognized in the industry.”

It doesn’t appear that any of the previous violations were related to Saturday’s explosion.

OSHA has dispatched inspectors to the Pueblo facility in the wake of last weekend’s incident. EVRAZ has also established a command center at the mill while investigators determine the precise cause of the explosion, assess the damage, and work out a timeline for repairs.

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