Feb. 4, 2015
OSHA cites International Paper Co. after
worker suffers severe electrical shock
Investigation finds manufacturer lacking safety procedures and protections
MADISON, Ohio – Every year, thousands of people are electrocuted at work by current from live wires and energized parts. Electrical current often enters through the skin, muscles or hair and then spikes through the nervous system, burning tissue in patches. One of those who suffered this kind of injury was a 24-year-old temporary maintenance employee at International Paper Co. in Madison. Burns hospitalized him and left him unable to work for more than four months.
An investigation of the Sept. 12, 2014, incident by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found the paperboard mill lacked procedures for preventing workers from contacting operating and energized machinery parts, which resulted in three repeated and two serious safety violations. Proposed penalties total $85,000.
"Workers should never conduct maintenance and trouble-shooting without first shutting down all electrical sources. Doing so can prevent severe injuries like those suffered by this worker," said Brigitte Frank, OSHA's acting area director in Cleveland. "International Paper has a responsibility to train and equip its employees properly."
OSHA's investigation found the worker, who had been employed for about nine months, had inadvertent contact with electrical equipment while performing end-of-shift cleanup in and around a printing and die-cutting machine. In 2013, more than 15,000 workers were injured from thermal burns, such as electricity. Of those, 139 workers died from electrical injuries.
International Paper failed to implement and train workers in energy control procedures* for machinery, resulting in three repeated violations. The company was cited for similar violations in July 2011 at a facility in Chicago.
OSHA issues repeated violations if an employer previously was cited for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.
A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, International Paper is a global leader in packaging and paper with manufacturing operations in North America, Europe, Latin America, Russia, Asia and North Africa. Its businesses include industrial and consumer packaging and uncoated papers. With net sales of $29 billion in 2013, the company employs approximately 65,000 people and is located in more than 24 countries.
International Paper has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Cleveland Area Office at 216-447-4194.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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Release Number: 15-37-CHI
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