Worker's Death in Paper Machine Leads to $288,000 in Fines

The worker died after he was pulled into the running nip points of a paper roller while hand-feeding paper into the roller.

OSHA has cited APC Paper Co. Inc. for alleged willful, repeat, and serious violations of workplace safety and health standards following the July 26, 2010, death of a worker at the company's paper mill in Claremont, N.H.

The worker died after he was pulled into the running nip points of a paper roller while hand-feeding paper into the roller. OSHA's inspection found that the company failed to provide an effective means of directing paper into the roller's nip points that would have precluded the hand-feeding. The company also failed to guard various other moving parts on the paper machine against employee contact. As a result, OSHA issued APC Paper three willful citations for these conditions. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

"Had the company utilized a safe and effective means of automatically feeding the roller, instead of relying on hand-feeding, this incident and the resulting loss of this worker's life would not have occurred," said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's area director for New Hampshire.

OSHA issued the company seven serious citations for more hazards at the mill, including lack of guardrails on the paper machine and the building's roof; not training employees who worked on and tested live electrical equipment; not de-energizing live equipment and employing safe electrical work practices; not providing employees with hearing protection refitting and retraining when hearing loss was detected; and additional machine guarding hazards. OSHA issues a serious citation 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. Three other-than-serious citations were issued for incomplete and inadequate recording of hearing loss, and other illness and injury data.

The company was issued one repeat citation for not guarding the calendar stack on the paper machine, a hazardous condition similar to one that OSHA cited in November 2009 at the company's Norfolk, N.Y., plant. A repeat violation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

APC Paper Co. Inc. faces a total of $288,000 in proposed fines, including $210,000 for the willful citations, $40,000 for the serious citations, $3,000 for the other-than-serious citations and $35,000 for the repeat citation.

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