OSHA Cites Columbia Forest Products with 15 Safety Violations Following Death

September 28th, 2010 by DWM Magazine

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Columbia Forest Products Inc. for 15 alleged willful and serious violations of workplace safety standards following the March 22 death of a worker at the company’s mill in Presque Isle, Maine.

The worker died after he became caught in moving parts of a machine known as a stacker, which activated while he was inside the machine performing maintenance. OSHA’s inspection found that the machine had not been turned off and its power source had not been locked out to prevent its unintended startup, as required under OSHA’s hazardous energy control, or lockout/tagout, standard, according to an OSHA statement.

“This is exactly the type of incident this standard is intended to prevent. Had proper lockout/tagout procedures been used, this needless death could have been avoided,” says William Coffin, OSHA’s area director for Maine. “What’s especially disturbing is that this employer well knows the requirements to power down and lock out machinery, yet ignored them.”

OSHA issued Columbia Forest products one willful citation, with the maximum proposed penalty of $70,000, for failing to de-energize and lock out the stacker. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

The company also was issued 14 serious citations, with $49,500 in fines, for defective fork trucks, lack of access stairs, no eye flushing facilities for employees working with corrosives, several machine guarding and electrical hazards, and additional lockout/tagout hazards. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company faces a total of $119,500 in proposed fines.

OSHA reminds companies that detailed information on lockout/tagout standard and safeguards, including an interactive eTool, is available online.

According to OSHA, Columbia Forest Products Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Columbia Forest Products had not responded to our requests for comment at press time.

Editor’s note: How often does your company review its safety procedures? Go to www.dwmmag.com to take our poll.

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