Wash. Paper Mill Fined for Hazards

July 6, 2004

Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) has fined Longview Fibre Co. $203,100 for four workplace-safety violations at its Longview paper mill.

L&I initiated the investigation Jan. 2, 2004, following the death of 38-year-old Mark Greenland, an employee who was caught inside a paper cutter when another employee inadvertently started it up.

The company was cited for three “willful” violations and one “serious-repeat” violation for violations of “lockout/tagout” procedures — the procedures required to protect workers from being caught in machinery that starts up unexpectedly.

The investigation reportedly found a pattern of company disregard for known lock-out/tag-out safety procedures and training, as evidenced by an injury in 1998 and a “near miss” in 1999. Both incidents occurred on the same paper machine as the fatal injury in January. The company has reportedly been cited in the past for 11 serious violations related to lock-out/tag-out procedures.

“Serious” violations are those where there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from an existing condition, and “willful” is cited when the department finds an employer intentionally or knowingly violated rules or knew that a violation was occurring and was plainly indifferent to correcting it.

The citations were issued for failure to:

* Establish and implement procedures for deactivating and locking out equipment to prevent unexpected start up of machinery, and train employees on those procedures.
* Provide retraining when procedures change, equipment is modified or when employees are assigned new job duties.
* Conduct periodic inspections of energy control procedures.
* Ensure that employees were following proper lockout procedures.
The company has 15 working days to appeal the citation.

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