Three Wisconsin workers were hurt on the job in a Wood County paper mill fire. One employee was airlifted to a medical facility after suffering a back injury and burns to his shoulders and head. Two others were treated for workplace injuries related to the fire.

The regional office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the cause of the blaze that broke out on a Friday morning at NewPage’s Biron mill.

According to police, a sudden explosion burned the three men, who were standing near an open door close to where coal trains enter the building to supply fuel. Two of the men, contracted from an industrial machine-cleaning company called Hydroblasters, had been at the paper mill on an equipment maintenance assignment. Sheriff’s department investigators say the contractors had been cleaning a machine that filters coal dust the morning of the blast.

A 30-year-old man was seriously injured in the explosion. The Biron, Wisconsin, contractor was flown to a Madison hospital, where police officials say he has undergone surgery. His condition is listed as stable.

A second contract employee, a 55-year-old Wisconsin Rapids man, and a Stevens Point mill worker were taken to Riverview Medical Center for treatment. Both were released.

The NewPage Biron mill manufactures coated paper used in magazines and catalogs. It employs 429 workers.

Wisconsin workers who have been injured on the job, like the three men in this story, may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Serious workplace injuries can leave employees unable to work for extended periods of time. When this happens, workers may worry how they will provide for their families. Workers’ compensation will often cover a portion of the injured worker’s wages as well as some medical expenses.

Source: Central Wisconsin Hub, “Fire at Biron NewPage mill injures three,” Aug. 13, 2011