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A Gallatin, TN, metal powders factory where five workers died in flash dust fires earlier this year said it is improving safety at the plant.

The Cinnaminson-based Hoeganaes Corp. issued its safety statement hours after the release of a highly critical investigative report by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.

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The federal agency found airborne iron dust at Hoeganaes ignited and created a fireball, burning workers in separate accidents in January, March and May of this year. Board members said the accidents were preventable.

Hoeganaes said the company is developing “an industry leading powder metal dust management system.” The statement said this and other actions will “ensure that similar accidents will not happen again.”

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The company produces atomized steel and iron powders for the automotive and other industries with facilities in the U.S., Germany, China and Romania. It is a subsidiary of GKN, a British multinational engineering company.

Safety board investigators at the meeting blamed the accidents on a thick accumulation of combustible iron dust throughout the facility, and said the likely ignition source for the January accident that killed the workers was an electrical arc from exposed wiring not properly grounded.

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