Industrial Dust Explosion in Woburn
State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan, Woburn Interim Director of Fire and Emergency Services Robert DiPoli and Woburn Police Chief Robert Ferullo, Jr. announced that a static electrical charge triggered the dust explosion and subsequent small fire on November 5 at 475 Wildwood Avenue in Woburn. The explosion caused critical injuries to one worker in the Powderpart company, minor injuries to a worker in a neighboring company that attempted to help the man, and to a police officer who was transported as a precaution due to exposure to smoke.
The company uses metal powders and a 3-D printing process that involves lasers during production. A worker was using a vacuum to clean the machinery at the time of the explosion. It was improperly grounded creating a build-up of a static charge inside the vacuum that ignited the dust.
The regional Hazardous Materials Response Team responded to the scene. They safely de-energized the machine then monitored the atmosphere to ensure the environment was safe for investigators to enter.
The origin and cause investigation was jointly conducted by members of the Woburn Fire Department, detectives from the Woburn Police Department, State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal and agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Also responding to the scene were State Police Detectives from the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, State Police Crime Scene Services, Department of Fire Services Code Compliance officers, representatives from the state Department of Environmental Protection, and the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).