OSHA has cited Arbor Vitae, Wis., lumber mill Pukall Lumber Company for exposing employees to multiple safety hazards following a worker fatality in January, according to a news release. The company faces a $348,467 in proposed penalties for the alleged violations.
An employee suffered fatal injuries at the Pukall Lumber Company mill after getting caught in an outdoor bark conveyor belt. As a result, OSHA cited the company for failing to implement energy control procedure and failing to ensure the conveyor had adequate guarding to prevent employees from coming in contact with moving parts, both willful violations. Pukall Lumber Company was also cited for 13 serious violations, including exposing employees to falls, electrical safety, welding, and woodworking hazards.
As a result of the incident, OSHA has placed the company in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The Program concentrates resources on inspecting employers who have “demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations by committing willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.” Enforcement actions for companies classified as severe violators include mandatory follow-up inspections, increase company awareness of OSHA enforcement, and enhance settlement provisions.
“Tragedies such as this are preventable when employers comply with safety standards that exist to protect employees from workplace hazards,” said Robert J. Bonack, OSHA Appleton, Wis. area director. “Employers must continually evaluate their facilities for hazards, and ensure supervisors properly train employees on the correct use of safety controls and equipment to prevent injuries and fatalities on the job.”
Pukall Lumber Company manufactures solid wood flooring and paneling, wood siding, molding, and log-home packages under the “Woods of Woodrufff” trade name. The company operates a retail store in Manitowish Waters, Wis., and a home design center in Woodruff, Wis. The company has 15 business days from the receipt of citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with its OSHA area director, or contest the findings.