Wisc. paper company exposes workers to sulfur dioxide vapors
OSHA has cited Flambeau River Papers for failing to protect workers from hazards associated with exposure to sulfur dioxide – a substance used to treat wood pulp for paper manufacturing that can cause numerous adverse effects to the respiratory tract when vapors are inhaled.
The hazards occurred at the company’s Park Falls, Wisconsin paper mill. OSHA cited eight violations, carrying proposed penalties of $42,300.
"The severe health effects of hazardous chemicals are completely preventable with proper training and protection, which Flambeau River Papers failed to provide to employees," said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire.
OSHA opened the inspection Jan. 30 under the National Emphasis Program for chemicals.
Six of the violations involve OSHA's process safety management standards, which contain requirements for the management of hazards associated with processes using highly hazardous chemicals. Those violations involved failing to document safe operating limits and to comply with good engineering practices for equipment, and for failing to implement a mechanical integrity program. Another serious violation was cited for failing to conduct an annual audit of the lockout/tagout procedures at the facility.
Flambeau River Papers has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.