Former Steel Workers Say They Warned Bosses of Explosion Risks

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GRANITE CITY, IL (KPLR)-- Former employees of a Granite City steel plant say they warned management and government regulators about explosion risks.  They say they took pictures to prove it.

The former workers spoke exclusively to Fox 2's Chris Hayes about warnings they say could have prevented the March 7th accident.

The two former employees took secret pictures inside Amsted Rail in the months before the explosion.  Witnesses described the blast throwing workers through the air.  Two men remain in the hospital.  Two of their former colleagues said they tried preventing the accident, by taking pictures of oxygen and acetylene lines, lying around.

Former worker #1, "They could cut that hose and if somebody`s grinding on it in the vicinity, boom, you`ve got an explosion."

Another worker described almost daily flare ups.

Worker #2, "Just like the 4th of July, sparks flying and one guy's boot filled with oxygen and blew up."
Hayes followed up, "Because of a hole in one of those hoses?"
Worker #2, "Yes."

One of the pictures was taken right after a fire.

Worker #1 said, "I warned them. I tried to get the safety department to move the hoses into an overhead retractable safety system."

Both former employees said they found new jobs after failing to get action.

Worker #1 added, "They`d rather keep running then try and fix things."

One of the former workers said he sent pictures and a written complaint to OSHA, yet saw no action.  We visited OSHA`s Fairview Heights office to get answers.  A secretary said she could take my number.

The former Amsted employees said problems persisted despite complaints to Amsted management and Osha.  An Amsted Rail spokesman told me their steel company has remained in business more than 100 years and that you cannot stay in business that long by ignoring safety concerns.  He emphasized they're committed to safety.  An OSHA representative said he was unaware of these complaints but said his Offices is investigating the recent explosion.

9 Workers Injured After Explosion At Amsted Rail

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