U.S. Chemical Safety Board – A three-person investigative team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is deploying to the scene of an incident that killed three workers and reportedly injured seven on Wednesday, February 8 at the Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) 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 was powerful enough to cause the tank to fly and land in a different area of the plant. Welding is one of several types of "hot work" – or spark-producing operations - 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.
"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 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."
The CSB is an independent federal agency whose mission is to drive chemical safety change through independent investigations to protect people and the environment. The agency's board members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical incidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.