OHSA fines Saia $119k after explosion at carrier’s St. Louis facility

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Updated Feb 13, 2015

Saia TL Nashville_0209The Department of Labor has proposed to fined the Saia Motor Lines (No. 22 in the CCJ Top 250) $119,000, following safety and health violations uncovered during an investigation into an explosion at the company’s St. Louis terminal that left four employees hospitalized.

The DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration says it found “one willful and 11 serious” violations during its investigation, it says.

The explosion at Saia’s terminal was caused by a forklift ignition source and a loose coupling connection to a liquid propane tank, OSHA says.

During its investigation, it found that two forklift operators were changing a propane tank on a gasoline-powered forklift inside a freight trailer when a loose coupling allowed propane to leak, become gaseous and causing a flash fire.

Two Saia workers suffered critical burns in the fire.

Inspectors found industrial trucks with defective or bypassed safety switches being used when they needed repair, OSHA says, which constitutes “willful violation.”

The 11 other violations stemmed from things like not evacuating work areas when flammable gas is released, exchanging propane containers in an area not adequately ventilated, mounting gas containers incorrectly, not training workers properly and not using hand and eye protection when changing cylinders.

Saia has 15 business days to comply with the fine or to request a conference or contest the findings before a review commission.