On May 10, it was reported that the father of a worker who was killed in an explosion that occurred in a Louisiana plant in February filed a lawsuit against two companies associated with the plant. It was found that unsafe working conditions may have caused the explosion to occur at the paper packaging plant. The man had only been working there for several days when the accident occurred, and he left behind a 16-year-old son.
According to the attorney who is representing the father, one of the companies had previously had a similar incident occur at another facility several years ago. However, it appeared that it had made little effort to keep these types of incidents from happening. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board were still investigating the incident.
What is known is that hot work was being performed by the decedent over a tank that was holding combustible gases. The attorney said that the company should have known that an explosion was possible based on previous explosions that had occurred in some of its other facilities.
Companies are required by law to ensure that the workplace is safe and hazard-free. If there are hazards present, they must do what they can to mitigate them and protect employees from harm. As is the case here, in lieu of seeking workers’ compensation benefits, injured workers or the families of those who have been killed as a result of the recklessness of employers may sometimes be able to instead file a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
Source: Louisiana Record, “Father of welder killed in explosion at Packaging Corporation of America facility files suit“, Dee Thompson, May 10, 2017