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Employee sustains preventable fatal injuries at paper plant

Workers in Pennsylvania could find this story about a death at an Ohio paper plant interesting. On July 23, at the Cheney Pulp and Paper Co. in Franklin, a forklift operator was killed as he traveled beneath a machine called a rotary digester that was in operation at the time. The machine struck and killed the worker when he passed under it. His skid-steer loader had no rollover protection structure at the time, since it had been removed. That modification is a serious Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violation.

On Nov. 26, OSHA placed Cheney in their Severe Violator Enforcement Program for the skid-steer loader violation, as well as a willful violation for the rotary digester's lack of an adequate machine guard. The guard could have protected the forklift operator from that machine's moving parts. The fines that have been proposed by OSHA for the two violations come to a total of $77,000.

In 2010, OSHA's inspection of Cheney's plant resulted in 27 violations. They currently employ about 35 workers and serve the paper industry by manufacturing pulp. They now have 15 working days to contest the proposed penalties.

It is an employer's responsibility to provide a safe workplace for their employees at all times. When they fail to do so and a worker is injured or killed, that worker, or the family of the deceased, could seek compensation for medical bills or final expenses for their loved one. A workers' compensation attorney could help by explaining the process and the available options, as well as preparing a case against the employer and their workers' compensation insurance carrier. Under the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act, anyone injured on the job could be entitled to medical and wage benefits.

Source: OSHA, "Cheney Pulp and Paper Co. cited by US Labor Department's OSHA after worker fatally injured at Franklin, Ohio, paper mill Company placed in Severe Violator Enforcement Program", Scott Allen, November 26, 2013

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