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1 injured in North Carolina plant explosion

Officials are investigating the cause of a ConMet plant explosion in Haywood County on Dec. 4 that resulted in the injury of a worker. Officials say that the incident happened just before 9 a.m. while the injured employee was working on an injection-molding machine.

ConMet employs about 500 workers at the manufacturing facility, which makes plastic components for the insides of trucks and semi-trucks. While a worker was working in a high-pressure process on the machine, a malfunction occurred. This released pressure and smoke, and the employee suffered a serious leg injury. He was taken to Mission Hospital for treatment.

A spokesperson for the company said that the worker injured was conscious and alert during hospital transport. The spokesperson also confirmed that they evacuated the facility for about one hour while authorities looked for the cause of the explosion. After officials determined that the plant was safe, the employees returned to work.

Investigators are still unsure what caused the malfunction, and a spokesperson with the Occupational Safety and Health division of the Department of Labor said that it may take two or three months before the investigation is completed. The ConMet spokesperson added that the company is working with authorities in the investigation.

Almost all workers in North Carolina are covered under the Workers' Compensation Act with few exceptions. Employers must have workers' compensation or be eligible to have self-insured policies so that workers who are injured or become ill due to exposure to hazardous elements while working receive benefits.

Employees who qualify for benefits may not have to pay medical treatment. They could also receive payments to replace the wages that they lost or continue to lose while they recover as well as compensation for suffering temporary or permanent disabilities. Injured workers who need help filing claims or disputing rejected claims could contact the Industrial Commission or private attorneys.

Source: WCNC.com, "1 injured in explosion at NC plant", Sabian Warren, December 04, 2014

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