A gas explosion at an American Steel Products plant in Granite City, IL critically injured two steel workers on March 7th, and sent several more to the hospital with minor injuries. The two critically injured workers each suffered severe burns, smoke inhalation, and broken bones.

The explosion occurred in an area in the facility where bolsters, or heavy central frames for the undercarriages of railroad cars, are manufactured and finished. Business Manager of Electrical Workers 309, Scott Hassall, could not comment specifically regarding the gas explosion, but did explain that the facility casts bolsters and once they are cool, finishes the product with grinding machines. Fire officials stated that gas somehow ignited near a grinding machine and caused a flash explosion, but no fire.

The cause of the gas explosion remains under investigation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been dispatched to investigate the incident, which could take up to six months to complete. OSHA has conducted two prior inspections at American Steel for complaints that surfaced in 2011 and 2012, but did not provide details on those inspections. In addition, in 2005, two American Steel workers suffered burns after molten steel spilled from a tub inside the plant.

The American Steel facility in Granite employs approximately 900 people and is a division of Amsted Rail Co.