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Catastrophic Blast in a PCA Plant in DeRidder Louisiana Leaves Three Dead and Many Injured

Amaro PCA Post (5)An explosion that took place on February 8, 2017 in one of Packaging Corporation of America’s (PCA) facilities in DeRidder, Louisiana, left three people dead and several more injured.  According to news sources, the explosion happened in the paper mill area of the plant.  The Sheriff’s Office has since released the names of the deceased: 32-year-old William Rolls Jr., 42-year-old Sedrick Stallworth, and 40-year-old Jody L. Gooch.[1]  The injured victims were taken to several hospitals in the region, with injuries ranging from minor to moderate.

PCA is an American manufacturing company with its headquarters in Lake Forest, Illinois, and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).  PCA operates in 34 states across the U.S., and has an international presence in China and Canada.  PCA’s network consists of 5 containerboard mills, 3 white paper mills, 94 converting facilities, 10 creative design centers, 2 fulfillment centers, 8 packaging and supply center, 2 training and resource centers, 1 technical center, and a workforce of approximately 14,000 employees.  PCA has more than 700 workers at the site where this catastrophic event occurred.

PCA is a publicly traded company.  Earlier investigations have revealed that over the last decade PCA facilities across the country have racked up over 150 violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and at least five deaths have been reported.  This incident has left more families destroyed due to dangerous work conditions.

Companies like PCA have several duties aimed at ensuring the safety of their workers.   The scope of these duties include providing a safe workplace free from serious recognized hazards, continuously examining the workplace conditions to make sure they conform to applicable safety standards, making sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment, proper maintenance of the equipment, and establishing and updating operating procedures and communicating them to the employees so that they can be complied with, among other duties.[2]  The exact cause of the accident is still under investigation. It is unknown at this time what parties are responsible as there may be other contractors that were involved in causing or contributing to the incident.  An OSHA director in Ohio has described PCA as having “a company culture that does not value safety and puts employees at risk each day.”[3]  State and federal laws impose very strict regulations on companies such as PCA in order to protect workers and the public from preventable incidents such as this one.  Anyone who fails to adhere to these rules and regulations needlessly put workers and the public needlessly at risk of harm.

We encourage anyone with factual information about the explosion to come forward so that we may help bring the families and those injured the justice they deserve.  If you have any relevant information which you think may be helpful in our investigation, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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