Some industries may be more prone to accidents involving explosions and the igniting of flammable substances. On the other hand, it may be that the company itself simply does not manage its operations for maximum safety to protect its workers. A company based in Illinois has come under increased scrutiny based on an unusually high number of job injuries and deaths in the past several years.
OSHA has cited the Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) for 30 safety violations recently stemming from an OSHA inspection at a PCA plant in another state. The inspection came after the plant had an ignition of flammable gases and a worker injury last March. OSHA said that a worker was badly burned while trying to relight a steam boiler.
That incident occurred at PCA’s Tomahawk, Wisconsin plant. OSHA’s spokesman said that the company’s past explosions from similar hazards have led to tragic worker injury incidents. In the current matter, OSHA cited the failure to prevent the ignition of flammable vapors, and not providing workers with appropriate personal protective equipment. In 2008, an explosion at the Tomahawk plant killed three PCA employees who were doing maintenance work on the top of a storage tank for recycled fiber.
In the recent incident, PCA was fined $22,500. OSHA said that a manager didn’t monitor the air inside the tank before welding on its exterior. The welding apparently ignited flammable gas generated by anaerobic bacteria inside the tank, causing the explosion, according to OSHA.
In July 2012, two employees of a Michigan-based industrial cleaning company working at the plant were killed after being burned by fly ash. Apparently, they were spraying high-pressure water on a fly ash bin. OSHA concluded that PCA was not responsible for those deaths.
PCA is based in Illinois with central offices at Lake Forest. As of December 2012, it reportedly employed 8,600 and had factories in 26 states. Each of the job injuries reported are covered by Workers’ Compensation benefits. The benefits include all medical expenses and lost wages based on a statutory formula that determines a percentage of a worker’s average weekly wage. Wage benefits are paid until a worker is released medically to go back to work.
Source: jsonline.com, OSHA cites Packaging Corporation of America for safety violations, Rick Romell, Sept. 5, 2013