Paper Mill Settles Lockout-Tagout Fatality Case after Years of Appeals
In January 2004, 38-year-old Mark Greenland, an employee of Longview Fibre Paper and Packaging Inc., died after being caught inside a paper cutter when another employee inadvertently started it up. A Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (WSDLI) investigation initially resulted in a proposed penalty of $203,100 and company citations for three willful violations and one "serious repeat" violation of lockout-tagout procedures. The company appealed.
Now a settlement agreement has been reached by WSDLI, Longview Fibre, and the Association of Western Pulp & Paper Workers Union, Local 153, ended the three-year appeals process. The settlement focuses on significant changes at the company, and a substantial commitment from the new owner and the union to work cooperatively to keep the workplace safe.
"This was a devastating event for the workers and the company, but we're gratified that the new owners and managers at Longview Fibre, in full cooperation with the union, are so dedicated to working with us to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again," said Steve Cant, WSDLI assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health.
Longview Fibre COO Frank McShane said, "In addition to our mutual commitment to keep our employees safe, Longview Fibre and our union worked collaboratively to dedicate $50,000 from the company for an educational fund for Mark Greenland's children."
The terms of the agreement include:
- WSDLI will modify the violations from "willful" and "serious repeat" to "serious," with a total penalty of $201,900.
- Longview Fibre agrees to pay the penalties, abate the cited violations, and dismiss its appeal of another citation issued in January 2007.
- The company agrees to establish a schedule for conducting comprehensive safety and health consultations, with the union fully involved.
- The company will work toward acceptance into the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), a WSDLI program for achieving excellence in workplace safety and health.
- WSDLI will not schedule the company for inspection for one year, although inspections may by initiated by complaints, injuries, or a death.
"With all the uncertainty of working for new owners and management, one thing has become clear--there's a new attitude and commitment toward safety," said Roger Fisher, president of the union local. "The union is grateful for the change."