America’s Industrial Accident Investigators: Their Uphill Battle to Prevent Disasters

Wednesday October 4, 2017
By JEFF JOHNSON, ALICIA PATTERSON FOUNDATION

Before dawn, Jim Gannon kissed his sleeping wife and kids goodbye and drove to work at the Napp Technologies chemical plant near his home in Lodi, New Jersey. There, like most mornings, he parked his car and headed off to his locker, but this morning Gannon was hit with the strong stench of rotten eggs. Hydrogen sulfide gas, he guessed, and he knew something was wrong. Gannon and his friend Buster McKenzie put on their protective face masks and both volunteered to go into the process room to check out the problem. They argued and McKenzie won, and while Gannon waited in a hallway outside, McKenzie went in and died.

“Everything got quiet, and then it was like the sun came into the hallway,” Gannon explained. “I was flying backwards, but my arms and legs were being sucked in opposite directions. I could feel my hair burning off, and the skin burning off my hands. But as hard as I could try, I couldn’t pull them in. I felt like I was going to die, so I relaxed because I figured it would just be easier if I just let it happen, rather than trying to fight it.”

Read the full story from the Alicia Patterson Foundation

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