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Explosion causes serious workplace injuries at cannabis facility

With the rapid expansion in the marijuana industry, safety authorities have to establish safety standards to govern the cultivation and processing facilities. In the meantime, employers must comply with the general standards as prescribed by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. Noncompliance by an employer led to citations issued by the safety agency after a June 2018 incident in which a worker suffered serious workplace injuries.

According to an incident report, an explosion occurred while a lone worker was using propane inside a portable storage container. The employee was busy with a process of extracting cannabis oil from the leaves of the plants when the ignition of the liquefied petroleum gas exploded. The worker was rushed to a hospital for treatment of serious burn wounds.

Cal/OSHA investigators determined that no atmospheric tests were carried out to determine whether flammable vapors or gases were present inside the container prior to operating equipment inside. The company received 10 citations for safety violations, including failure to identify hazards and protect workers, lack of personal protective equipment, and allowing workers to use equipment that is not properly maintained and unsafe to operate. Further citations involved the lack of safety training and emergency procedures.

Victims of workplace injuries in California are typically entitled to pursue financial assistance through the state-regulated workers' compensation insurance program. They can proceed with benefits claims regardless of whether Cal/OSHA is investigating the incident and irrespective of who was at fault. Legal counsel can assist with the legal and administrative proceedings in pursuit of benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages.

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