An employee died in an accident at Procter & Gamble’s plant in Pineville, LA, early Thursday morning.
William Allen Kendrick, 56, died when the vehicle he was working on exploded, officials said.
No one else was directly injured in the accident, though six people did seek treatment for ringing ears or physical distress stemming from their emotions, a company spokesperson said.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office, which is participating in the investigation, reported the accident involved an explosion of a piece of equipment that an employee was driving, resulting in the employee’s death. The fire did not spread, the office reported.
“We are deeply saddened to confirm that a member of the P&G Product Supply Family passed away at our Alexandria manufacturing facility in a tragic accident during the early morning hours of May 24,” said plant manager Frank Blumling.
Kendrick was well known in the Jena community as the longtime director of the LaSalle Parish Community Choir. An avid supporter of the arts, he was also a longtime member of the Jena Community Theater group Acting Up and had previously served as band director at Jena High School.
Blumling said management is collaborating with authorities in the investigation.
The facility in Pineville is one of the area’s largest employers, with about 600 employees and hundreds of other contractors typically working at the plant. Though it is located in Pineville, it’s known as the Alexandria plant.
Blumling said it’s the first fatal accident in the plant’s 49-year history.
The plant has been shut down and workers sent home. Blumling could not say when operations will resume.
“The safety of our employees is a top priority, and there is an investigation underway at this time,” Blumling said. “We are connected with the employee’s family and have expressed our deepest condolences. We will support them and all our Alexandria employees in this difficult time.”
The Alexandria plant opened in 1969 with about 145 workers.
It has grown substantially in the past 15 years. In 2002, it had less than half the employees it has now (it employed 260 people then).
Since then, the plant has expanded its product lines several times. It started producing liquid detergent in 2006. In 2012, it became one of two sites to produce the new Tide Pods. Later that year, P&G consolidated its dry detergent manufacturing in Pineville.
Multiple companies that have located to the area to supply the P&G plant, including Plastipak Packaging, have created hundreds of additional jobs.