The two men injured Wednesday in a flash fire at Momentive Performance Materials “have a long road ahead of them,” according to the president of the union that represents them.
Dominick Patrignani said Thursday that he and other officials from IUE-CWA Local 81359 are with the men and their families at Westchester Medical Center.
“We’ve been with the families for the last couple days,” he said. “We’re all whipped.”
The workers, whose names have not been released, are in stable condition at the downstate hospital after sustaining severe burns, said Momentive spokesman John Scharf. The company is putting the families up in hotels and providing food and transportation while they’re at the hospital, he said.
Details on the extent of the men’s burns and the treatment they’ll have to undergo are still not available.
“We do know that they are seriously burned on their bodies,” Scharf said.
At least three independent investigations into the cause of the fire are being conducted — by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the company and the union. OSHA was on site Wednesday to do an inspection after the incident, and will conduct an investigation, said Michael Levy, assistant area director of the Albany-area office of the federal agency. If OSHA discovers violations, it will levy penalties, Levy said.
The union is mainly focused on the men and their families now, but plans its own investigation, Patrignani said.
“We’re going to be heavily involved in this,” he said. “We are collecting information and data.”
The unit where the men worked remains closed until the company’s internal investigation is finished, Scharf said. The fire occurred at 2:46 a.m. Wednesday while the men were preparing a machine for maintenance. The company makes silicones and quartz.
Waterford Town Supervisor John “Jack” Lawler said he was concerned that the company called a Troy ambulance instead of contacting the town’s ambulance service, which is headquartered about a mile away.
“These are highly-trained people,” Lawler said of the town’s ambulance service. “We’ve got numerous commendations in the last year for the lives that they’ve saved.”
Scharf said the company’s two basic life support ambulances were in use with the two men and the company needed an advanced life support ambulance since they were seriously injured.
An agreement with the town requires the town ambulance to be used as backup when the company’s ambulances are in use, Scharf said, so the company called Troy instead.