OSHA cites Georgia-Pacific paper mill following fatality

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: workplace safety

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Georgia-Pacific after a worker was killed in a Cedar Springs, Ga., paper mill accident. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $63,000.

"This case demonstrates the need for continuous vigilance to ensure that existing protective systems are maintained to keep employees safe," said John J. Deifer, OSHA's Savannah, Ga., area director.

On April 10, a Georgia-Pacific employee was assigned to weld pinholes on the outside of a pressurized metal tank. Two other employees, standing on catwalks above and below the welder, served as fire watchmen. During the welding operation, a vacuum-pressure relief device discharged steam and paper stock, causing one watchman to fall 30 feet.

OSHA issued four serious citations and proposed $28,000 in penalties for safety hazards directly related to the accident. Investigators found that a rusted, loose and improperly anchored catwalk guardrail system gave way when steam pushed the worker against it. OSHA also issued citations for inadequately written procedures for assuring that equipment was rendered inoperable while employees performed welding operations; failure to locate pressure-relief devices, so they vented away from employees; and failure to assure that input valves were closed and locked before welding began.

The company also received one repeat citation with a proposed penalty of $35,000 for failing to ensure that employees were familiar with and adequately trained on the lockout procedures for the tank.

The Atlanta-based company has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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