NY Paper Worker Fatally Burned, International Paper on Severe Violators List

Essex County, New York – An employee of a Ticonderoga (NY) area paper mill was fatally burned in January 2015. Jorg Borowski, 57 years old, was caught in a flash fire while servicing air pollution equipment and died of his burns a day later. Owners of the International Paper Company have been faulted for numerous serious safety violations and face up to $210,000 in fines.

International Paper has been added to a special OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, aimed at companies that “have demonstrated indifference to (safety regulations) by willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.” OSHA linked the company’s failure to conduct annual safety inspections of the “fly ash bag house” where Borowski was working to identical violations at its plants in Chicago and Newark, Ohio, in 2011.

In citations filed by OSHA this week, the IP mill in Ticonderoga was faulted for not providing Borowski with fire-resistant protective clothing, for improper maintenance of fly ash pollution control equipment so that it introduced oxygen needed for the fire to ignite and for not having an automatic fire control system where Borowski was working to remove and replace burned, smoldering filter bags of combustible fly ash.

The system for collecting fly ash also failed to meet National Fire Protection Association standards and had been inadequately maintained, according to OSHA.

“This worker’s death was preventable. International Paper knew of these hazards and deficiencies and did not address them,” said Kim Castillon, OSHA’s area director in Albany. “While nothing can return this man to his daughter and co-workers, the company can and must take prompt and effective steps to ensure that this never happens again.”

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