Business & Real Estate

Propane explosion in weed extraction shop prompts OSHA fine

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A state agency cited a Santa Cruz-based marijuana company Thursday for safety violations after an employee was severely burned following a propane explosion earlier this year.

Future2 Labs Health Services was issued a citation calling for a $50,470 penalty for 10 workplace violations, three of which were considered life-threatening violations, according to a news release issued by the California Department of Industrial Relations.

An employee of Future 2 Labs was working alone in a 128-square-foot portable storage container in Watsonville on June 19, extracting oil from cannabis leaves with propane when a spark caused an explosion, burning the worker and hospitalizing him for several days, according to the release.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health determined that the company had not tested the atmosphere of the storage container for flammable gases or vapors, which created an environment where an equipment spark could ignite propane gas, according to the release.

“The process of using a highly flammable gas to extract oil from cannabis leaves is dangerous,” Cal/OSHA chief Juliann Sum said in the release.

The three accident-related violations were for failing to protect workers around flammable vapors, failing to identify hazards, failing to provide protective gear and failure to maintain equipment safely. Future2 Labs was given additional citations for failing to establish an emergency plan and a hazard communication plan and for failing to report a serious workplace injury, according to the release.

“To prevent injuries and mitigate risk, employers in the cannabis industry must establish and implement an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program, provide effective training to their employees and comply with safety and health standards,” Sum said in the release.