Worker killed by 4,000-pound pallet in Knoxville steel mill accident

Gerdau Ameristeel Facility (Courtesy: WATE)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A worker was killed in an industrial accident Tuesday evening at a Knoxville steel mill.

The Knoxville Fire Department was called to Gerdau Ameristeel Facility for a collapse just after 7:30 p.m.

Initially, crews thought it was a building collapse but later learned around two tons of sand-like material used in the recycling phase of producing hardened rebar had collapsed, trapping a worker.

The worker was identified as Anthony McDowell, 55, of Knoxville. He was reportedly was working in the storage area of the facility at the time of the accident.

A report on the incident says a pallet of granular product overturned on him. The pallet weighed 4,000 pounds and contained large bags.

Rescuers removed the material from the 55-year-old, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

The company released a statement after McDowell’s death, saying it is saddened it happened.

“The company is working closely with the appropriate authorities to determine the cause of the incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time, and due to company policy and out of respect to his loved ones, that is all the information we can provide at this time,” Gerdau continued.

The Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the accident, which is expected to take up to 12 weeks to complete.

Gerdau says it is also conducting an internal investigation.

The plant was the site of a 2014 explosion that killed one worker and injured five others. The plant was fined $8,400 and had to install monitoring equipment. Gerdau officials say Tuesday’s accident was in no way related.

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