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Region 4 News Release: 09-885-ATL (230)
August 3, 2009
Contact: Michael D'Aquino     Michael Wald
Phone: 404-562-2076     404-562-2078

U.S. Department of Labor's OSHA cites International Paper's Augusta, Ga., plant for serious safety and health violations following fatality

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing 37 citations against International Paper's paper mill in Augusta, Ga., following a fatality that occurred at the plant in February when a worker was struck by a timber loading crane.

OSHA is citing the company with one serious violation for running the crane with an inoperable warning device such as a horn or whistle. The company is also receiving a serious violation for allowing employees to work near machinery that lacked guards or barriers. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

A comprehensive safety and health inspection by OSHA staff revealed 26 additional serious safety violations including fall hazards, lack of machine guards, a missing safety latch, missing emergency lighting, poor and missing emergency signage and electrical hazards. Six serious health violations were identified including dust accumulation, lack of safety information for hazardous chemicals and equipment, missing emergency eyewash stations, failure to perform annual respirator fit tests and failure to use safer medical devices.

The plant is also being given three other-than-serious citations with no monetary penalties for failing to evaluate powered industrial truck operators, not securely mounting electrical equipment, and failing to include a change schedule for cartridges used to protect workers from multiple gasses.

"The large number of serious violations found at this single facility signals management's failure to take seriously their responsibility for the safety and health of their workforce," said Gei-Thae Breezley, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office.

OSHA has proposed a total of $123,000 in penalties against the company, which has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office, 2183 Northlake Parkway, Building 7, Suite 110, Tucker, Ga.; telephone 770-493-6644.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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