FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — Two workers at a plant in Cumberland County died after they were found unresponsive during a hazmat incident Sunday afternoon, officials said.
The incident was reported just after 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Valley Proteins at 1309 Industrial Dr., according to a statement from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.
A statement from Valley Proteins said one employee had been with the company for 13 years. The other had been with it for one month.
A hazmat team responded to the scene and two workers were found unresponsive, according to the sheriff’s office.
The workers later died, according to a news release from deputies. The building was evacuated soon after hazmat teams responded.
“When you first hear about it, your thoughts go to the workers and their families — especially the families and everything they lost with this,” said attorney Matt Healey.
Healey specializes in workers’ compensation. He said OSHA standards require companies to provide safe workspaces.
“There are specific guidelines for confined spaces in terms of whether you can even go in it or not. If you do, what protections have to be there,” he explained.
However, the company also wrote in a statement:
This accident may have occurred by lack of following company safety procedures which both employees have been trained in. We are in the process of a full investigation working with all agencies involved to find out what exactly occurred.
“The North Carolina Department of Labor is going to investigate to determine whether there were any violations of OSHA standards and regulations. That can be a fairly lengthy process,” Healey stated.
According to documents, OSHA is investigating a previous complaint filed just last week.
The sheriff’s office said it is choosing not the release the names of the employees out of respect for their families.
As for Valley Proteins, it is in the process of a full investigation to find out what happened.