US Chemical Safety Board is deploying a three-person investigative team to the scene of an incident that killed three workers and reportedly injured seven at the Packaging Corporation of America plant in DeRidder, Louisiana.
According to initial reports, the explosion took place while contractors performed welding on a tank during a facility shut down. The explosion, which occurred on Wednesday, February 8th, is said to have caused the tank to fly and land in a different area of the plant.
“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,” said US CSB chairperson, Vanessa Sutherland.
Hot work incidents, she added, are one of the “most common” and “readily preventable” causes of worker deaths the CSB sees.
“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.”
Welding resides as one type of ‘hot work’ that can ignite fires or explosions. Most hot work incidents result in the ignition of combustible materials or the ignition of structures or debris near the hot work.
In the aftermath of 2008’s deadly 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”
- A safety video called “Dangers of Hot Work,” which presents the findings from that bulletin
More about the US CSB
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.