Farm Worker Severely Burned After Possible Dust Explosion

A 27-year-old farm worker who was seriously injured on May 4 on after a 1000-gallon water tank he was working in exploded remains hospitalized, the Eastern Arizona Courier reported Thursday.

Police responded to the incident at the Steve Daley Farm in Thatcher, AZ at about 7:28 am after an off-duty police officer reported hearing a loud explosion and a man screaming, the paper reported. An officer saw a truck with its emergency lights flashing and followed the vehicle to an area hospital.

The officer observed that the farm worker suffered burns to his upper body, with his hair and shirt burned off in the blast, according to the Courier. Charred skin hung from his torso, arms, and face.

The explosion occurred when the man was cleaning inside a plastic, 1000-gallon water tank used to hold Roundup, an herbicide produced by Monsanto, the previous year. The farm’s owners told police that the man was scraping dried excess Roundup just before the blast.

Thatcher Police told the Courier that the cause of the explosion is unclear, but Chief Mike Payne said the incident was possibly a dust explosion caused by static electricity.

“I don’t know if the Roundup itself caused anything,” Payne told the newspaper. “It’s just hard to say until they do lab tests on the debris and what material was in the bottom of the tank.”

Investigators from the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and an insurance company visited the farm, police said.

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