DALLAS, Texas — Ten years ago, the Dallas-based Delta Millworks was still reeling from a massive explosion that killed nearly all its employees.
The site’s former president, Larry Gebhard, has now retired and, after more than 30 years, is now an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Dallas.
Gebfords son, Jeff, now runs the business, now a subsidiary of Texas-based Millworks Inc. But now, in a small office park at the edge of town, he’s been watching the news with growing concern.
“This is a story about the people,” said Gebfried, referring to the explosion.
He’s seen a number of similar cases in other parts of the country where workers have died after trying to use ventilators to stop breathing.
Gebfried is one of more than 100 workers who have come forward to speak out about their experiences in recent months, which are part of an effort by the Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce to encourage the public to speak up about workplace safety issues.
The Dallas-area chamber is hosting a conference at the Dallas Museum of Science on Wednesday.
It’s co-sponsored by the Chamber of Science and other nonprofit organizations.
“We want people to come forward and say, ‘You know what?
We can’t keep this going on,'” said Gabbard, who said she has received numerous death threats.
For the past several years, the Dallas office of the National Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been investigating the workplace at the former Delta Mill Works site near Dallas.
That was where workers at other facilities suffered serious injuries, such as a worker who died after ventilating himself at a Texas mill.
The mill closed after a series of explosions, but employees say they were never told of the cause of the plant explosion.
The plant reopened only last year, and now the owners have shut it down.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the building was demolished to make way for the new millworks site, which will employ 100 workers.
The building was built in 1971, but the owners said they have not been able to keep the building in operation due to safety concerns.
It’s unclear why the mill worked on the site and where the explosion occurred.
But in the meantime, workers are working around the clock to find out what happened.
They want the safety rules in place for anyone who may have been injured at Delta Mill.
The safety commission is expected to hold a hearing in Dallas Wednesday.
There are several other similar cases that have come to light in recent years.
The Dallas-Fort Worth Metro Chamber of Business launched an online petition asking that the federal government step in to clean up the site, and the Dallas Independent School District has hired former Dallans attorneys to represent workers.
As the industry continues to evolve, Gabbart said he hopes the DACC will encourage the government to act.
Follow Melissa Dykes on Twitter at twitter.com/melissadyk and at her website at melissadykes.com.