On Wednesday, August 16, 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, announced that a New York paper mill faced $357,445 in proposed penalties for exposing workers to 61 safety and health hazards. An investigation was opened into Carthage Specialty Paperboard Inc. on December 27, 2016 after a complaint alleging unsafe working conditions.

Inspectors found that employees were exposed to serious safety hazards, including 20 instances of a failure to use safety guards on machinery to prevent amputation. Simultaneously, it was found that the mill did not have safety locks in place to prevent the machines from being started accidentally during maintenance. Employees had not received adequate training or Personal Protective Equipment for working on electrical systems with up to 2,300 volts.

Metal catwalks were missing restraints, which are intended to prevent falls. It was also discovered that employees had entered confined spaces without atmospheric testing or any way to rescue the persons should they become overcome by fumes. On February 7, 2017, an inspector discovered accumulations of explosive paper dust on the dry end of the machine room. It was also revealed that some process equipment was leaking water and pulp leaving the floors with standing water.

In return, wood placed on the floor was wet and slippery. During the course of the inspection, employees were observed climbing on the frame of the drum screen and working on the rewinder out feet tilt platform, without any fall protection.

OSHA Area Director Christopher Adams made a statement about the situation. “The violations found during this investigation put employees at serious risk of injury or even worse. This is a significant number of hazards for a single workplace. Carthage Specialty Paperboard must implement corrective measures to protect their employees’ safety and health.”

The Carthage-based company has already notified OSHA that it will be contesting the findings.

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