N.Y. Paper Manufacturer Faces $116,250 in Fines Following Fatal Crushing

OSHA has cited Brownville Specialty Paper Products Inc. for 35 alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards following the death of an employee at its plant in Brownville, N.Y. The employee was fatally crushed on Dec. 5, 2007, by two large rolls of paper, weighing approximately 2,500 pounds, that rolled out of a rewinding machine. OSHA's inspection found that the machine's barrier guard was not interlocked with its drive mechanism to prevent the rolls from being ejected during rewinding operations, and the company knew of the hazard but did not correct it.

"This accident could have been prevented had this machine been properly guarded against this hazard," said Christopher Adams, OSHA's area director in Syracuse. "This case illustrates in the starkest possible terms why effective safeguards are necessary to prevent death and injury on the job."

The agency issued the paper company one willful citation, carrying a $49,000 proposed fine, for the unguarded rewinding machine. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. The inspection also identified hazards involving blocked and obstructed emergency exit routes; fall hazards from unguarded stairways and work platforms, including ladder deficiencies, lack of safety belts and lifelines, and an emergency exit opening onto an unguarded 30-foot-high landing; various unguarded moving machine parts; improper compressed gas storage; uninspected lifting equipment; several electrical hazards; respirator safety deficiencies; inadequate hearing protection; no emergency response plan and training for liquid chlorine spills; lack of training for employees entering confined spaces; unlabeled steam pipes and chlorine lines; and incomplete energy control procedures to prevent the unintended startup of machinery.

These conditions resulted in OSHA issuing the company 34 serious citations, with an additional $67,250 in proposed fines. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. In all, the company faces a total of $116,250 in fines for the willful and serious citations. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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