$150K+ in OSHA Fines Proposed Against WI Repeat Offender

Niagara, WI – Wood Fibers Inc. has been placed on OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program after consistently failing to comply with safety and health standards. OSHA has issued one willful, four repeat, and three serious safety and health violations bwood fibers lockout repeatased on an October 2015 inspection with proposed penalties totaling $152,460. Failure to implement OSHA’s past recommendations has put employees of the Wisconsin wood pellet manufacturer in danger of amputation, burns, and other life-threatening workplace injuries.

OSHA found employees operated machines without effective safeguards from moving parts, and combustible dust hazards in processing equipment and associated dust collection equipment. OSHA also cited a lack of training on procedures to prevent unintentional machine operation during service and maintenance and electrical safety violations, known as lockout/tagout training and procedures..

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$193K OSHA Penalty in WI Confined Space Death

Grantsburg, WI – An OSHA investigation into the death of a Burnett Dairy Cooperative employee identified two willful and eight serious safety violations at the Wisconsin dairy.

In November of 2014, a Burnett Dairy employee was attempting to unclog a sump when he was engulfed by corn and died in a grain bin. OSHA inspectors found that Burnett Dairy did not follow safety standards for entering grain bins. In a press release, OSHA said the company failed to deactivate a drag conveyor and allowed the worker to be in the bin while the corn was moving.

According to OSHA, the inspection found Burnett Dairy exposed the worker to engulfment hazards by not following required grain handling and Lockout/Tagout energy control procedures. OSHA also said the company violated confined space regulations by failing to have an attendant trained in confined space rescue for the worker while inside the grain bin.

Mark Hysell, OSHA’s area director in Eau Claire, said it takes just “seconds to become trapped in flowing grain…Burnett Dairy is familiar with the precautions to protect its workers, but failed to follow them. Life or limb should never be the cost of doing business.”

OSHA proposed penalties of $193,200 and placed the company in its Sever Violator Enforcement Program.

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Clearwater Paper Fined for Lack of Lockout/Tagout Procedures

Neenah, WI – OSHA has proposed fines of nearly $50,000 for safety violations found at Clearwater Paper Corp. facility in Neenah, WI. Violations included a lack of procedures for the control of locking devices to prevent the operation of maclocking devices needed paper productshinery during repairs, known as lockout tagout. The company was also cited for a lack of safety guards on operating machine parts.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration found nine serious violations during a December inspection of the paper mill, including those that present amputation risks. Matt Van Vleet, vice president of public affairs for the Spokane, Wash.-headquartered company, said they received notification of the violations on April 24, and company officials are in the process of review.

OSHA chose the Wisconsin mill for inspection based on its use of equipment that puts employees in danger of amputation. The administration has put an emphasis on reducing workplace machinery and equipment hazards. OSHA officials say the company and its union took immediate steps to address the issues raised during the inspection.

Clearwater Paper is the country’s largest producer of private-label tissue products, and its Wisconsin mill is one of 10 manufacturing facilities across the country.

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OSHA Fines WI Furniture Maker $1.76 Million

Arcadia, WI – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration levied a historic $1.766 million dollar fine this week against Ashley Furniture Industries, based in Wisconsin. Investigators documented numerous and repeated serious violations at the facility, landing Ashley Furniture on OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program list for “employers who have demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations by willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.”

The plant employs 4,500 and in the past 3 years has seen over 1,000 worker injuries. Workers were not adequately protected against moving machinery, most of it woodworking machinery. Lack of training and accidents with tools, blades, and saws have resulted in multiple amputations. The OSHA report and $1.76 million dollar penalty allege that Ashley Furniture “failed to safeguard against woodworking machines unintentionally starting when workers were making tool and blade changes,” which is also known as lockout tagout or control of hazardous energy.

Additional citations were issued for “not training workers on safety procedures and hazards present when servicing machinery; lacking adequate drenching facilities for workers exposed to corrosive materials; electrical safety violations; and not equipping all machines with easily-accessible emergency stop buttons.” OSHA categorizes these violations as serious since physical harm resulted from a hazard they estimate that the “employer knew or should have known [to] exist.”

“We rarely issue a fine that is more than $1 million,” commented U.S. Labor Department Assistant Secretary David Michaels. “Having 1,000 work injuries in three years is proof positive that safety in this plant needs tremendous ­improvement.” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez stated: “Safety and profits are not an ‘either, or’ proposition. Successful companies across this nation have both.” For its part, Ashley Furniture denies the findings, stressing that they are allegations only.

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Worker Suffers Electric Shock and Burns in WI

PLEASANT PRAIRIE, WI –A 24-year-old temporary maintenance employee suffered severe burns from electrical shock while on assignment for Parallel Employment Group of Wisconsin Inc. Working at the Arvato Digital Services LLC distribution center in Pleasant Prairie, the employee came in contact with an energized electrical source and suffered electrical shock. This caused severe burns and left the employee unable to work for more than four months after the May 19th incident.

An investigation OSHA cited both companies for failure to train employees in electrical safety-related work practices, including wearing electric arc flash and shock protection equipment.

OSHA cited Arvato Digital Services for one willful and 10 serious safety violations, carrying proposed penalties of $124,000. Parallel Employment Group, was cited for four serious violations and faces penalties of $26,000. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control and responsibility for temporary employee safety and health.

“Workers should not conduct maintenance and trouble-shooting without shutting down electrical sources and wearing personal protective equipment. Those actions can prevent severe injuries like those suffered by this worker,” said Chris Zortman, OSHA’s area director in Milwaukee. “Both temporary staffing agencies and host employers must train and equip their employees properly.”

OSHA’s investigation found the worker, who had been employed for about eight months, had inadvertent contact with electrical equipment while trouble-shooting an electrical failure on a heat-sealing machine.

Arvato Digital Services failed to implement electrical safety practices for employees, which resulted in one willful violation. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Arvato Digital Services and Parallel Employment Group were cited for failure to train temporary employees in electrical safety and exposing workers to operating machinery parts on conveyers and press equipment. These serious violations exposed workers to electrical shock and amputation.

Additionally, Arvato Digital Services failed to require personal protective equipment for employees working near exposed, energized electrical parts. The company also did not develop procedures to de-energize circuits and equipment safely or ensure stored energy capacitors were grounded. A serious violation occurs 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.

The citations from OSHA included electrical safety, arc flash, lockout, and machine guarding citations, as follows:

PPE -OSHA 29 CFR 1910.132(d)(l): The employer did not assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present,or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE):

Lockout / Hazardous Energy Control Program – OSHA 29 CFR 1910.147(c)(4)(i): Procedures are not developed, documented and utilized for the control of potentially hazardous energy when employees were engaged in activities covered by this section:

29 CPR 1910.147(c)(6)(i): The employer did not conduct a periodic inspection of the energy control procedure at least annually to ensure that the procedure and the requirement of this standard were being followed:

Machine Guarding 29 CFR 1910.212(a)(l): Machine guarding was not provided to protect operator(s) and other employees from hazard(s) created by in going nip points, and unguarded conveyor belts:

View the Citation Here

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