US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Flambeau River Papers for failing to
protect workers from toxic sulfur dioxide vapors at Park Falls, Wis., paper mill
PARK FALLS, Wis. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Flambeau River Papers for failing to protect workers from hazards associated with exposure to sulfur dioxide at the Park Falls paper mill. Sulfur dioxide is used in treating wood pulp for paper manufacturing and can cause numerous adverse effects to the respiratory tract when vapors are inhaled. OSHA cited eight violations, carrying proposed penalties of $42,300.
"Companies, such as Flambeau River Papers that uses hazardous chemicals in its manufacturing process, have a responsibility to train their employees in the hazards associated with exposure to chemicals, such as sulfur dioxide," said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire. "The severe health effects of hazardous chemicals are completely preventable with proper training and protection, which Flambeau River Papers failed to provide to employees."
OSHA opened the inspection Jan. 30 under the National Emphasis Program for chemicals and cited Flambeau River Papers for seven serious violations.
Six of those violations involve OSHA's process safety management standards, which contain requirements for the management of hazards associated with processes using highly hazardous chemicals. Those violations involved failing to document safe operating limits and to comply with good engineering practices for equipment, and for failing to implement a mechanical integrity program. Another serious violation was cited for failing to conduct an annual audit of the lockout/tagout procedures at the facility.
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.
Flambeau River Papers 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 Eau Claire Area 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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