April 25, 2016
OSHA cites Wisconsin paper mill after worker injured fatally
while servicing operating conveyor belt
Clearwater Paper mill in Ladysmith cited for machine hazards in 2012
LADYSMITH, Wis. - A machine operator who suffered fatal injuries as he serviced a high-speed conveyor belt in a Ladysmith paper mill in October 2015 might still be alive if his employer had ensured that equipment was powered down and locked out before the 46-year-old man entered the hazardous area.
After its investigation into the Oct. 27, 2015, incident, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Cellu Tissue-City Forest LLC for one willful, one repeat and two serious safety violations on April 21. Cellu operates the Clearwater Paper-Ladysmith mill.
In 2012, OSHA cited Cellu for inadequate machine safety procedures at the same facility.
"Workers at the Clearwater Paper mill were exposed to dangerous machine hazards on a daily basis because their employer failed to properly prevent contact with operating machinery," said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire. "This man's death is tragic and was preventable. Despite incidents like this one, machine hazards continue to be one of the most frequently cited federal worker safety violations. It takes just minutes to stop and put safety first."
Investigators found employees at the mill routinely work beneath high-speed conveyor and sheet-fork sections of the wet-lap machine during production mode. Doing so exposes them to the risk of an operating machine pulling them in or a machine part striking them, causing severe or even fatal injuries.
OSHA has proposed penalties of $119,000. View current citations here*.
Owned by Cellu Tissue-City Forest LLC, the Clearwater Paper Corp. operates the Ladysmith mill. The mill employs about 81 workers and produces more than 40,000 tons of paper each year for use as paper towels, napkins, bath and facial tissue products. Based in Spokane, Washington, Clearwater is the country's largest provider of private label tissue to retail grocery chains and a manufacturer of bleached paperboard. The company has an administrative office in Alpharetta, Georgia, and operates manufacturing facilities in Clarkson, Washington; Columbia City, Oregon Lewiston, Idaho; Las Vegas, Nevada; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Cypress Bend, Arkansas; Shelby, North Carolina; Elwood, Illinois; and Neenah, Wisconsin.
The company 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 amputations, eye loss, 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 Eau Claire office at 715-832-9019.
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: 16-834-CHI
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).
*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.