When two Lone Star Management LLC employees were directed to use a gas-powered forklift to move pallets of fireworks and cardboard out of an explosives storage facility, the gas ignited, causing an explosion and fire. Within seconds, the trapped employees became engulfed in flames. The inferno took the life of one 28-year-old worker and left a 43-year-old co-worker to suffer with burns over 80 percent of his body and the possibility of never working again.
OSHA found nine serious safety violations at the Pittsburgh, Kansas warehouse following an investigation of the Aug. 12, 2014, incident. As a result, the agency cited Lone Star Management, which specializes in importing and distributing Class 1 fireworks.
A deadly combination
"Poor housekeeping, combined with using a forklift not approved for flammable environments, proved to be a deadly combination," said Judy Freeman, OSHA's area director in Wichita. "Fireworks are meant to be fun, but by their nature, are highly explosive. This employer knew the hazards and how to protect staff. The families of these workers should not suffer because a company did not show a commitment to worker safety."
OSHA's investigation found that the company failed to paint explosive storage containers red with appropriate warnings and stored unauthorized materials, including cardboard, in the explosives' containers.
HazCom, hazmat violations as well
Lone Star Management also failed to develop, implement and maintain a written hazard communication program to train workers about hazardous workplace materials and provide necessary handling safety precautions. Additionally, fire extinguishers were not mounted and accessible and employees were not trained to use them. The company also failed to have a competent person on-site to enforce safety standards for magazine storage.
OSHA has proposed fines of $55,000 for the nine serious violations.