If the name Blue Rhino seems familiar to people in Colorado, it is likely because it is the name on their propane tanks. Anyone with a gas grill or some other need for propane will likely have used Blue Rhino before. Blue Rhino may also be on Coloradoans’ minds because of an explosion that rocked through the propane plant at the end of last month.
The explosion left eight employees injured and in need of medical treatment. Many were rushed to nearby hospitals in critical condition. In the confusion, there were some victims who ended up driving themselves to the hospital. What is truly frightening is that the explosions left some of the workers with their skin hanging off their faces, arms and body. It will be quite a while before any of these employees are able to work again.
Initial reports indicate that the explosion was caused by a combination of human and company error. If this accident had happened in Colorado, however, it would not matter that one of the employees could have helped to cause the accident, as workers’ compensation benefits are awarded without regard to fault.
Employees were fortunate that three 33,000-pound tanks of propane did not detonate. Had they done so, there may have been more injuries. It was extremely lucky that they had not exploded because the hoses that were created to spray water on the tanks had to be activated by hand.
As Blue Rhino picks up the pieces after this horrific accident, it will be interesting to see if the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration will fine the company for poor safety conditions.
Source: The Associated Press, “Massive explosions rock Blue Rhino gas plant in Florida,” Mike Schneider, July 30, 2013