OSHA Fines N.Y. Recycling Plant Nearly $60,000 Following Fatality

The death of a worker at a North Tonawanda, N.Y., waste paper recycling plant has resulted in $59,850 in proposed fines from the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Frontier Fibers Inc., 22 Mechanic St., was cited for 20 alleged serious violations of workplace safety standards following the Aug. 12, 2005, accident in which a worker fell into a baler while attempting to clear a jam in a chute that fed material into the baler.

OSHA’s inspection reportedly found that the chute opening through which the worker fell lacked fall protection and that there was no emergency stopping device in the immediate vicinity of the worker to prevent his being carried into the baler. In addition, there were no procedures in place to shut down the baler and lock out its power source while clearing jams or performing maintenance; no employee training in such procedures, and no inspections to ensure such procedures were effective and in use.

“This is exactly the type of accident that safeguards and safety procedures can prevent,” said Arthur Dube, OSHA’s area director for western New York. “This accident illustrates the tragic cost of failing to supply and ensure safety measures.”

Other hazards cited during OSHA’s inspection include various fall hazards; unguarded moving machine parts; blocked access to fire extinguishers; lack of fire extinguisher training; debris and cardboard blocking work areas and aisles; inadequate training for employees operating powered industrial trucks; no hazard communication program and employee training, and various electrical hazards.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the 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.