A 57-year-old general mechanic's death at International Paper Co.'s Ticonderoga plant was preventable, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The employee was removing and replacing burned filter bags of flammable fly ash from a dust collector when the fly ash ignited, inflicting the man with fatal burns.
The subsequent OSHA investigation found that International Paper could have prevented the death of its employee had it not failed to meet OSHA safety guidelines. The company faces $211,000 in proposed fines and citations for two willful, one repeated and three serious violations.
Violations include failure to supply the employee with necessary fire-resistant clothing and train him and other employees on the specific physical hazards of combustible fly ash. In addition, the Ticonderoga plant's system for conveying and collecting the fly ash was deficient. It had not been inspected for defects, did not comply with National Fire Protection Association standards and had not been maintained adequately.
"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."
International Paper, a global leader in the paper and packaging industry with manufacturing operations in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, Asia and North Africa, must participate in OSHA's Severe Violator Program. Initiated in 2011, this program focuses on employers who endanger workers by committing willful or repeated violations, mandating follow-up inspections to ensure these companies get up to OSHA compliance.
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