OSHA Seeks $119k in Fines Following Paper Mill Death

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is seeking $119,000 in fines from a Ladysmith, WI paper mill after a man was killed while servicing a high-speed conveyor belt last October, the agency announced on Monday.

A 46-year-old man was injured at the mill operated by Clearwater Paper Corporation, a subsidiary of Cellu Tissue-City Forest LLC, in Ladysmith on Oct. 27, 2015. The man later died of his injuries. The agency cited Cellu Tissue-City Forest LLC for one willful violation, one repeat violation, and two serious safety violations on April 21.

“Workers at the Clearwater Paper mill were exposed to dangerous machine hazards on a daily basis because their employer failed to properly prevent contact with operating machinery,” OSHA’s regional director in Eau Claire, Mark Hysell, said in a press release. “This man’s death is tragic and was preventable. Despite incidents like this one, machine hazards continue to be one of the most frequently cited federal worker safety violations. It takes just minutes to stop and put safety first.”

OSHA said that investigators discovered that mill employees “routinely” work beneath high-speed conveyor and sheet-fork sections of the wet lap machine during production. The agency asserts that these conditions exposes workers to the risk severe injury or fatality, as the operating machinery could pull them in or a machine part could strike them.

The mill employs about 80 people and produces more than 40,000 tons of paper annually, used as napkins, paper towels, and bath and facial tissue products.