Blue Rhino Settles Florida Fire Case

Blue Rhino has agreed to pay penalties totaling $52,000 and to complete the abatement of all hazards within 60 days of signing the settlement.

OSHA announced Dec. 8 that it has reached a settlement with Ferrellgas LP, doing business as Blue Rhino, of an enforcement case stemming from a July 2013 incident where six workers at a Taveras, Fla., propane tank refurbishing facility were injured in a fire. They were night shift workers. As employees prepared tanks July 29 for paint removal in a storage yard, a worker called in a forklift to move some tanks. The forklift was not explosion-proof, and it created a spark that ignited propane vapor and nearly 600,000 pounds of propane, causing a fireball that swept through the facility, according to OSHA, which reported four workers suffered severe burns.

OSHA and Ferrellgas LP signed the settlement agreement Dec. 7 that affirms nine serious and six other-than-serious citations, with Blue Rhino agreeing to pay penalties totaling $52,000 and 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.

The investigation determined 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 propane tanks in the storage yard; failed to provide process safety management training for employees on propane hazard alarms; and failed to ensure workers used PPE.

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