An explosion at a Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) plant in DeRidder, Louisiana, earlier this week claimed the lives of three workers and injured seven others. According to initial reports, the Feb. 8 explosion took place while contractors performed welding on a tank during a facility shut down. PCA is a producer of containerboard and uncoated freesheet. The company employs 13,000 workers.
According to a press release from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), which has sent a team to investigate the incident, welding is one of several types of “hot work” – or spark-producing operations - that can ignite fires or explosions.
“The CSB has investigated many hot work accidents across the country, including a 2008 explosion that killed three workers at a different PCA plant in Tomahawk, Wisconsin.” says Chairperson Vanessa Sutherland. “Hot work incidents are one of the most common causes of worker deaths we see at the CSB, but also one of the most readily preventable.”
Following the deadly 2008 explosion at the PCA plant in Wisconsin, the CSB issued a safety bulletin on the hazards of welding and other hot work entitled “Seven Key Lessons to Prevent Worker Deaths during Hot Work In and Around Tanks.” The agency also released a safety video called “Dangers of Hot Work,” which presents the findings from that bulletin.
Chairperson Sutherland said, “The CSB continues to be concerned about the frequency of dangerous hot work incidents and has added safe hot work practices to the agency’s Drivers of Critical Chemical Safety Change Program, a list of key chemical safety advocacy initiatives.”