CSB Notes Safety Management System, Other Factors Contributed to 2016 Airgas Facility Explosion

The board's final report also noted regulatory deficiencies were to blame.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board has released its final report on the Aug. 28, 2016, nitrous oxide explosion at the Airgas facility in Cantonment, Fla. The sole worker at the facility that day, Jesse Folmar, was killed in the incident, which caused manufacturing of nitrous oxide at the plant to be stopped indefinitely.

Federal regulations do not require specialized safety rules for nitrous oxide, according to CSB.

Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said, "Nitrous oxide is a hazardous substance – facilities should have good safety management systems to mitigate the risks that exist. Safety management systems standards are critical to identify, evaluate, and control process safety hazards. This tragedy in Cantonment should not be repeated."

The board reached the conclusion that the causes of the explosion all came from the lack of an effective process safety management system. For example, Airgas did not evaluate safer design options that could have eliminated the need for the pump that produced the initial heat.

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