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California

Santa Cruz marijuana company fined $50,000 for explosion that badly burned employee

In this Dec. 7, 2018 photo, flowering cannabis plants grow at Grassroots Vermont, a medicinal cannab
Flowering cannabis plants are pictured at Grassroots Vermont, a medicinal cannabis production facility in Vermont. A Santa Cruz-based marijuana manufacturing company was fined more than $50,000 by state regulators following an explosion that injured an employee.
(Robert Layman / Associated Press)

A Santa Cruz-based marijuana manufacturing company is being fined more than $50,000 by state regulators for safety violations after an employee was severely burned in a propane explosion, officials have announced.

An employee at Future2 Labs Health Services was working alone inside a 128-square-foot portable storage container in Watsonville on June 19, extracting oil from cannabis leaves with propane, when a spark ignited the tank and it exploded. The worker was hospitalized with severe burns, according to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

“The process of using a highly flammable gas to extract oil from cannabis leaves is dangerous,” Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum said Thursday in a prepared statement.

The agency determined that the company did not test the atmosphere inside the storage container for flammable gases or vapors, which created an environment where a spark could ignite propane gas.

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Cal/OSHA fined the company based on the 10 workplace violations it discovered, including the company’s failure to protect workers around flammable vapors, provide personal protective gear and maintain equipment. The business also was cited for inadequate training, failing to establish an emergency action plan and failing to report a serious workplace injury, according to the agency.

“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.

hannah.fry@latimes.com

Twitter: @Hannahnfry

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