OSHA Fines Maine Business for Failing to Record Injuries, Illnesses

November 21, 2005

The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Fraser Paper for reportedly failing to record numerous injuries and illnesses that occurred at its Madawaska, Maine mill between 2003 and 2005. The paper manufacturer faces a total of $170,000 in fines.

Acting on an employee complaint, OSHA examined the company’s illness and injury logs and other medical data for mill employees from 2003 through 2005. OSHA’s inspection found 59 instances where injuries or illnesses were not recorded in the mill’s “OSHA 300” illness and injury log; 77 instances where injuries or illnesses were not recorded in the log within seven days; and two years, 2003 and 2004, for which incomplete annual illness and injury summaries were certified as being complete.

“The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses,” said Anthony Lemire, OSHA’s area director for Maine. “No one wins when the records are wrong, but it’s the workers who stand to lose the most.”

Proper recording of injuries and illnesses is the foundation of a workplace safety and health program, noted Lemire. Unrecorded or misrecorded injury and illness information can obscure the types and severity of injuries occurring in a workplace, undermining efforts to prevent them.

As a result of this inspection, OSHA issued three willful citations with $165,000 in fines. An additional $5,000 in fines was proposed for three other-than-serious citations for not recording medical injuries and illnesses as restricted duty days or days away from work and not including all incident reports on OSHA 300 logs. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

On Oct.17, OSHA proposed $90,500 in penalties against Fraser for a total of five willful and serious violations following the April 20 death of a worker in a fall at the mill. Those citations and penalties – for lack of fall protection, safety harness, hazard assessment and warning signs, and failure to identify tank covers as walking and working surfaces – are currently being contested.

Fraser Paper has 15 business days from receipt of these citations to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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