Four employees of a Humble, Texas, plastic pipe plant were injured and two remain hospitalized after an extruder apparently malfunctioned and blew melting polyethylene onto their faces and upper bodies.
The accident happened about 1 p.m. Dec. 15 at Lightning Rod & Pipe, which serves the industrial and oil and gas industries.
The extruder got clogged and when the workers tried to fix it, a pressure release blew out the hot plastic and burned them, published reports stated.
Two of the employees were treated and released the day of the incident. Another suffered second-degree burns to his upper torso and is expected to be out of the hospital by Monday while the fourth worker will probably need skin grafting but also should be released next week said a company spokesman.
“We're very fortunate and the employees are very fortunate,” he said. Both employees have full eyesight and hearing but doctors said there may be minor facial scarring.
“We pray for the employees and their families,” he also said.
The company is fully cooperating with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said the spokesman, who added that despite initial local reports, there was no chemical explosion.
“It was an unfortunate accident that occurred at our facility and we don't have a root-cause analysis of the failure other than we assume it was a malfunctioning piece of equipment,” he said. “We will work diligently to find out what went wrong and prevent it from ever happening again.”
Lightning was founded in 2010 and is privately held company that offers pumping solutions, including thermoplastic tube liners made of high density polyethylene, for injection, disposal, vertical, horizontal and slant wells. The company describes itself as a leader in the area of artificial lift.
The website says, “We do not make the pump, but we do provide products which allow the pump to perform better resulting in a longer run life with increased production and reduced operating costs.”
The business also has international offices in Columbia and Venezuela, according to its website.