HOUSTON (March 15) — Federal authorities are investigating an explosion at a Texas rubber molder that killed one rubber worker and sent dozens fleeing.
The deadly blast on March 8 shredded the walls and windows of a warehouse at American Elastomer Products in Houston. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is probing the accident, but agency officials wouldn't elaborate, citing the active investigation.
Killed in the explosion was Reginald Bryant, 47, of Houston, according to an official from the Harris County Medical Examiners Office. A Houston Fire Department spokesman said the man was killed when a high-pressure vessel at the 30,000-sq.-ft. facility apparently failed.
American Elastomer makes products used in the oil industry as well as general products such as O-rings, seals and rubber-covered rollers. The company is a division of Houston-based American Packing and Gasket Co., which bought the company, formerly known as Texas Rubber & Specialty Manufacturing, in 2001.
Calls to American Elastomer officials were not returned, but employees answering the phone said some business had resumed by March 12, amidst a flurry of activity by OSHA, insurance and company officials. A check of the OSHA's online inspection database since 1990 didn't reveal previous enforcement actions concerning American Elastomer or its parent company.