US labour agency investigates ammonia exposure death at Idaho plant

24 May 2013 21:11  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials confirmed on Friday the labour agency is investigating the death of a subcontractor from apparent ammonia exposure while working at a JR Simplot fertilizer plant in Idaho.

The employee has been identified as Derrick Martinez, 23, who was employed by Kansas-based Blick’s Phosphate Conversion, which subcontracts in the making of phosphate fertilizers at Simplot’s Pocatello plant in Idaho.

“We are in the beginning stages of the investigation, and it could take up to six months,” said an OSHA spokesperson.

According to Blick spokesperson Kenny Kalb, Martinez was working inside a company mobile production trailer on 18 May when he was exposed to ammonia and found unconscious. Kalb said the cause of the incident is still being investigated by the company.

Martinez was taken to a Pocatello hospital and later airlifted to a University of Utah hospital in Salt Lake City but died on Wednesday.  

Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia can cause burning of the nose, throat and respiratory tract and can lead to respiratory distress or failure resulting in death.

Simplot officials are not commenting on the incident or OSHA investigation other than to confirm the accident occurred on its property and that no employee of Simplot was injured. In 2007, a worker was killed at the plant after being burned to death when exposed to molten sulphur.
By: Mark Milam



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