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Foxconn explosion: Apple iPad supply impact unclear, dangers of combustible dust

Combustible dust appears to have been a trigger for the explosion at Hon Hai, which makes Apple's iPad.
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Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

An explosion at a Hon Hai plant on Friday killed three and may impact Apple iPad supplies, according to analysts.

The Hon Hai---also known as Foxconn---explosion was at a plant that builds iPads for Apple. Analysts have been handicapping the impact on Apple's supply chain and thus far it's unclear. Short-term there's likely to be little impact. In the long run, however, regulation may force plant changes as Hon Hai retools and cleans up its operations.

The biggest reason why regulation may become an issue is the cause of the explosion. The blast was reportedly traced to combustible dust that gathered in a polishing workshop. Hon Hai has suspended polishing operations in its factories.

In 2008, 60 Minutes did a story on combustible dust and examined why things weren't regulated better. An excerpt and video from that story:

Since 1980, there have been at least 350 such explosions in the U.S., killing 133 people and injuring hundreds more. There are at least 30,000 factories in the nation vulnerable to dust explosions, and yet, some top federal safety officials tell 60 Minutes the government agency whose job it is to protect workers is ignoring a tried-and-true way to prevent those explosions.

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