OSHA investigating explosion at Colorado middle school


An explosion ripped apart a middle school gymnasium after a contractor relit a water heater pilot light in Colorado, last week.

The Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) is investigating an explosion at an Erie, Colorado middle school that left three people hospitalized due to burn and fall-related injuries last week, according ABC affiliate 7NEWS in Denver. No students were in the building – as classes are recessed for summer vacation – though one school district employee was among the injured, along with two construction workers.

Local fire department officials told reporters that a plumbing contractor attempted to relight the pilot of a water heater, causing a buildup of gas to ignite. The subsequent explosion knocked out walls and ripped a hole in the roof of the school's gymnasium.

Laura McConnell, a spokeswoman for the Mountain View Fire Protection District, said that this was the first time the natural gas line had been turned on since an extensive remodeling of the school's facilities began earlier this year. Philippe Bryant, a passerby who witnessed the accident, told the news station that a school employee spoke to him about the mounting pressure to get construction work done before students return on August 16.

"I've heard there have been screaming matches and that workers have been told, 'Hurry it up, get it done,'"  said Bryant.

OSHA officials will likely look into whether adequate precautions were taken by contractors at the site and if employees received proper safety training prior to beginning work.

Accidents do happen, though many are preventable through online compliance training. The best way to avoid serious injuries is to make sure all employees are properly educated on job site safety protocols. With online OSHA training, companies can be secure in the knowledge that their workers know how to maintain the highest of safety standards on any job.

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