Two workers in St. Augustine, Fla. suffered injuries while cutting into a gas supply pipe with a torch when residual gas ignited inside the pipe and exploded due to the pressure.
The March 2014 incident at Indianhead Explorations LLC, doing business as Indianhead Biomass Services, permanently disabled one employee and left the other with a leg injury. The explosion occurred as the workers were making modifications to the wood piping that supplied the gas and the gas heat exchangers.
"This incident could have been prevented if the employer established and implemented necessary safety measures to ensure that the pipe was properly vented to release the heat and pressure that builds up inside the pipe," said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA's area director in Jacksonville.
Amputation hazards, defective brakes on boom cranes
OSHA cited the company for willful violations for exposing employees to amputation hazards from a lack of machine guarding and allowing two boom cranes to be in operation when they were not annually inspected and had deficiency notices for defective brakes and load cables.
The serious violations were cited for exposing employees to flying debris by not having machine guarding on several pieces of equipment. Additionally, the employer: allowed workers to use a compressed oxygen cylinder with a damaged and inoperable regulator gauge; failed to clean, ventilate or test the pipe and tanks of the wood gas cooling supply system prior to use; and failed to provide a vent or opening for the release of built-up pressure and heat while using a cutting torch.
Indianhead Biomass Services is a solid waste disposal facility and processing plant that employs approximately 40 workers. OSHA is proposing $93,300 in penalties.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, fatal work injuries in Florida accounted for 218 of the 4,628 fatal work injuries* reported nationally in 2012. Additional details are available at http://www.bls.gov/.