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OSHA proposes $136,000 in fines against S.D. Warren Co. for hazards at Skowhegan, Maine, paper mill (10/5)

October 5, 2009
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OSHA has cited S.D. Warren Co. for 19 alleged violations of workplace safety standards at the company's Somerset Mill in Skowhegan, Maine. The paper manufacturer faces proposed fines totaling $136,000.

"The sizable fines proposed here reflect both the gravity of the conditions identified during this inspection and the recurring nature of several hazards found during a previous inspection of the company's Westbrook Mill," said William Coffin, OSHA's area director for Maine.

The recurring conditions included unguarded open-sided floors and platforms; unguarded inrunning nip points on paper machines; defective guarding for a saw; uncovered revolving shaft couplings; and an unguarded conveyor drum. These violations resulted in the issuance of five repeat citations carrying $107,500 in proposed fines.

The inspection at the Somerset Mill also identified fall hazards; unguarded floor and wall openings; work areas not kept in a sanitary and orderly condition; unsecured materials in storage racks; inadequate work space around electric equipment; ineffectively closed electrical panel openings; a jagged railing; and additional instances of unguarded moving machine parts.

OSHA issued the company 14 serious citations with $28,500 in fines for these conditions. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

"Left uncorrected, or allowed to reoccur, these conditions expose workers to the hazards of falls, lacerations, amputation, crushing injuries or death," said Coffin. "They must be addressed effectively, completely and continuously for the safety and health of the mill's workers."

S.D. Warren Co. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Augusta Area Office; telephone 207-626-9160.

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