Cal/OSHA Hazard Alert Memo

Employers in the Produce-Ripening Industry and All Suppliers of Ethylene Gas- Ripening Products and Equipment (Generator-Produced and Cylinders)
John Howard, Chief, Division of Occupational Safety and Health
March 1, 2000
Ethylene Gas Explosion

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is alerting employers about steps that can be taken to prevent worker death and injury from the use of ethylene gas in the produce ripening industry. In a recent accident in Los Angeles, one worker was fatally injured and another worker was critically injured by an explosion that occurred inside a tightly enclosed room in a commercial building where ethylene gas was being used in the ripening of fruit. The Division believes that this type of explosion and loss of life can be prevented if employers take appropriate safety precautions:

  • Only experienced workers should be permitted to use ethylene gas ripening equipment. Inexperienced workers involved in the process should work only under the direct supervision of experienced personnel.
  • Use ethylene gas and related equipment in accordance with manufacturer instructions and with applicable Title 8 Safety Orders.
  • Instruct and train workers to recognize and report unsafe conditions in their immediate work environment.
  • Electrically ground all equipment when using ethylene gas.
  • Keep ethylene gas away from flames, sparks or other sources of ignition.