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Firefighters inspect the factory hall in Gevelsberg

Photo: Tim Oelbermann / IMAGO

After an explosion in an industrial hall in Gevelsberg (Ennepe-Ruhr district), a man succumbed to his injuries. Three other employees were injured, they suffered smoke inhalation.

The fatally injured man was discovered on Saturday with severe burns by the fire brigade directly in the entrance area of the company, the fire brigade reported on Sunday.

At first, they wanted to take him to the hospital by helicopter. But his condition was already too critical for air transport, it said. The seriously injured man was therefore taken by ambulance to the emergency room, where he succumbed to his burns.

Oil caught fire

The explosion was apparently triggered by demolition work. According to the investigations so far, hydraulic oil first caught fire on a punch weighing several tons, then a chain reaction occurred. The fire brigade was on site with 75 firefighters. With a drone, the fire brigade was able to support the extinguishing work from the air. The operation lasted five hours on Saturday.

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Emergency services after the end of the extinguishing work.

Photo: Tim Oelbermann / IMAGO

A structural engineer classified the industrial hall of the metalworking company as acutely in danger of collapsing after the explosion. Due to the force of the explosion, parts of the roof covering had shifted, and part of a wall had collapsed.

Number of fatal accidents at work decreased in 2022

According to the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), the number of fatal accidents at work fell in 2022 compared to the previous year. In its preliminary evaluation, the DGUV cites 427 deaths – 83 fewer than in 2021.

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Accident insurance attributes the decline to the easing of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021, many insured persons had died during rehabilitation after an accident at work – presumably some of them had contracted Covid-19 in the rehabilitation facility. Such deaths are counted in the statistics as accidents at work.

Overall, the figures are still below those of the pre-Corona period. However, DGUV Managing Director Stefan Hussy warns that it is still too early to assess whether this is a pleasing long-term development – for example, because of the increased work in the home office.