Dec. 8, 2015
OSHA reaches settlement with Blue Rhino in 2013 propane explosion
that severely injured 6 workers at Taveras, Florida, tank facility
Leading propane supplier affirms safety violations, accepts $52K in penalties
Taveras, Fla. - For employees working with hazardous substances, an oversight can be disastrous - an unfortunate lesson learned by six Florida workers at a Blue Rhino propane tank refurbishing facility in Taveras who were injured during a fire.
On July 29, 2013, as night-shift workers prepared tanks for paint removal in a storage yard, a worker called in a forklift to move some tanks. The forklift was not explosion-proof, so it created a spark that ignited propane vapor and nearly 600,000 pounds of propane. A fireball swept through the storage facility, injuring six workers and severely burning four.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Ferrellgas LP, doing business as Blue Rhino, signed a settlement agreement on Dec. 7, 2015 that resulted in the affirmation of nine serious and six other-than-serious citations. Blue Rhino agreed to pay penalties totaling $52,000. Additionally, the agreement requires Blue Rhino to complete the abatement of all hazards within 60 days of signing the settlement.
"This settlement is an important step toward protecting these workers and ensuring that all employers are monitoring and removing hazards from the workplace," said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA's regional administrator in the Southeast.
An OSHA investigation on July 30, 2013, found that Blue Rhino failed to use an explosion-proof forklift in an area where employees were actively venting propane from tanks; failed to follow process safety management standards for the individual propane tanks amassed in the storage yard; failed to provide process safety management training for employees on propane hazard alarms; and failed to ensure workers used personal protective equipment.
A leading propane tank exchange brand, Blue Rhino distributes propane at approximately 875 U.S. locations. The company also designs and markets barbecue grills, outdoor heaters, mosquito traps and outdoor appliances. Founded in 1939 and based in Overland Park, Kansas, Blue Rhino is a subsidiary of Ferrellgas Partners LP.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Tampa Area Office at 813-626-1177.
Release Number: 15-2231-ATL (384)
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).