Feds fine local boat builder after two workers 'severely burned' in explosion

A 2004 file photo shows a SeaHunter boat.
A 2004 file photo shows a SeaHunter boat. SeaHunter Boats

A local fishing boat manufacturer has been fined $9,100 after federal regulators said two of its workers were “severely burned” during an explosion at a Homestead marina in August.

The workers were trying to fix a fuel leak on a boat at Black Point Marina on Southwest 87th Avenue in unincorporated Miami-Dade County when they turned on the light on a cell phone to see better, according to inspectors from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The light then ignited leaking fuel vapor, burning the workers on their hands and faces, the feds said.

OSHA cited Princeton-based SeaHunter Boats for three safety violations, two of them considered “serious,” including failing to test the work area for a flammable atmosphere and not providing workers with portable lamps.

“Employers and employees need to be aware that a commonly used device such as a cell phone can be a huge danger around flammable products,” said Condell Eastmond, director of OSHA’s Fort Lauderdale office. “Employers must ensure they provide the correct tools for their workers to perform their job safely.”

Charlie Schiffer, vice president of SeaHunter, said the employees had recovered and were back to work.

“There was no scarring,” he said. “Everything is good, thank God.”

Schiffer said the company had paid the fine without appealing. He said SeaHunter would ensure that its workers use lamps and a metering device to read fumes in the future. “Things you can’t smell can still cause an explosion,” he said.

SeaHunter makes custom boats for fishing. The company has also built a 35-foot vessel for the Bal Harbour Police Department. Its president, Ralph Montalvo, is a regular at local boating and fishing tournaments.