In late July, a massive explosion shook the Blue Rhino gas plant in Tavares, Fla. In what might have been the result of poor safety practices and equipment failure, eight workers were injured, four critically, after an initial explosion set off a string of explosions that engulfed the site in flame and smoke.
Approximately 24 workers were on site at 10:30 p.m. July 29 when the incident started. Officials and workers say the injured were in an area where 53,000 propane storage tanks sold for home use were stored. The injuries suffered included serious burns to the head, face, torso and arms.
The site had already caught the interest of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), which cited the plant for safety violations in 2011. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives (ATF), OSHA and the Florida State Fire Marshal are investigating the incident. The following is known about the possible causes of the accident:
- Water hoses intended to douse potential fires were designed for manual activation. Yet Lake County Battalion Chief Chris Croughwell noted, “[M]ost sane people don’t stick around for an event like this.” A worker who was unable to reach the water hoses said, “[I]t was too violent, too hot, to get in there and turn them on.”
- An injured forklift worker stated repeatedly he had performed his job as he was trained when the explosion occurred. A new employee noted he was provided no safety training.
While it is close to miraculous there were no fatalities, this type of accident should not have occurred. If you suffer injury in the workplace, obtain skilled legal advice.