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There was a June explosion at a California marijuana producer where an employee suffered burns and the company is now facing safety fines, said officials at the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA).

As the marijuana industry takes hold in states allowing recreational marijuana use, state agencies are taking steps to ensure compliance with worker safety and health standards.

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An employee of Santa Cruz-based Future2 Labs Health Services Inc. was working alone June 19, 2018, inside a 128-square-foot portable storage container, using propane to extract oil from cannabis leaves, said officials at Cal/OSHA.

The propane ignited, causing an explosion that badly burned the worker. He was hospitalized for several days following the incident.

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Cal/OSHA’s investigation found the employer failed to test the atmosphere inside the container for flammable gases or vapors before allowing equipment to be operated, according to an agency statement. The equipment used in processing marijuana created a spark, igniting the propane gas.

Cal/OSHA cited the company with 10 violations, proposing fines of $50,470.

Serious violations cited in the incident include failures to:
• Protect employees working near flammable vapors
• Identify hazards
• Supply personal protective equipment
• Maintain equipment in a safe operating condition

The state workplace safety and health agency also issued citations for violations related to inadequate safety training, failure to establish an emergency action plan and hazard communication program. Cal/OSHA also cited the company for failing to report a serious workplace injury to the agency.

Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum encouraged the marijuana processing industry to take steps to protect workers.

“The process of using a highly flammable gas to extract oil from cannabis leaves is dangerous,” Sum said. “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,” she said.

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