After two workers were confirmed dead and seventeen were injured in the Omaha industrial accident on Monday, January 20th, federal investigators are seeking the cause of the building collapse. U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors are working together with structural engineers and combustible dust specialists to determine how and why the International Nutrition building collapsed.
A few witnesses reported hearing an explosion prior the building's top two floors collapsed into the first floor, while others blamed said sound, along with fire, for the building's ruin. Combustible dust is any type of dust that can catch fire, which refers to almost any type of dust if it is ground finely enough. Investigators reported the items International Nutrition worked with could produce combustible dust, but they were unaware of what type of dust could have caused the explosion, as of yet.
It can be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months for investigators to determine what caused the accident. The OSHA investigators entered the building on Tuesday, accompanied by a search and rescue team. They were able to recover some evidence and take pictures inside the building, but information as to what was photographed has yet to be released. City officials have since declared the building unsafe to enter, so investigators have been unable to reenter the building and continue searching for answers.
International Nutrition Company President Speaks Out
The PR firm hired by International Nutrition is refusing to comment about the incident to reporters, but the company's president, Steven Silver, did express his sympathy for the families who had lost loved ones or who had injured family members. In his written release, he wrote a majority of the employees worked with the family-owned company for more than a decade, meaning the loss and injuries of the workers has been difficult on everyone. He also wrote this accident was the most serious incident to ever occur since the company's establishment.
The International Nutrition building will most likely need to be leveled and reconstructed, as it appears too damaged to repair. The company has stated they will hire a private structural engineer to look over the building before the rest of the structure is demolished.