OSHA has fined a St. Louis company $119,000 in connection with an explosion last August that injured four workers, two of them critically.
Saia Motor Freight Line LLC faces one willful and 11 serious violations.
OSHA says the explosion that burned four workers was caused by a forklift’s ignition source and a loose coupling connection to a liquid propane gas tank.
According to the agency, two forklift operators were changing a propane tank on a forklift inside a freight trailer when the loose coupling permitted liquid propane to leak, vaporize and ignite, causing a flash fire.
The two operators were critically burned. A third worker suffered burns to his legs as he helped extinguish his colleagues’ burning clothing. A fourth employee working nearby was also burned.
Inspectors found several forklifts with defective or bypassed safety switches being used when they needed repair. This resulted in one willful violation.
The 11 serious violations include failure to:
- evacuate the work area after the release of the flammable gas
- require the exchange of forklift propane containers in an adequately ventilated area
- mount gas containers correctly
- train workers on extremely flammable gas hazards
- require the use of hand and eye protection when changing cylinders
- train forklift operators, and
- label hazardous chemicals in the maintenance shop.
OSHA also noted several electrical safety hazards.
Saia has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Saia is based in Duluth, GA, and has 147 terminals covering 34 states. It employs about 8,000 workers.