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Large paper manufacturer exposes employees to steam hazards, faces $200K fine

August 15th, 2019 by Dakota Software Staff

Large paper manufacturer exposes employees to steam hazards, faces $200K fine

Manufacturers have to contend with a wide variety of potential workplace hazards depending on the nature of their operations. No matter what the specific risks are at a given facility, business leaders, EHS professionals and front-line supervisors all have to play important roles in terms of keeping employees safe and following established rules for effectively addressing these potential dangers.

A failure to carefully consider and regularly review the potentially wide array of safety-related responsibilities at a facility can lead to many negative consequences. That was the case for a large paper product manufacturer that faced proposed Occupational Safety and Health Administration fines of $211,400 due to a lack of proper control procedures and employee protections related to hot steam, OHS Online reported.

6-figure fine a response to steam issues

"The business faces a $211,400 fine from OSHA."

The paper manufacturer, which is based in Georgia but has several facilities across the country, came under scrutiny after an employee was injured in a workplace accident. The worker was in the process of repairing a leak in a steam-line header at the business's Queen City, Texas, facility, when they were burned by a release of hot steam. Following the incident, OSHA started an investigation and eventually determined that the leak that led to the repair attempt and employee injury had been an issue for several months, OHS Online said. In addition to the steam leak, the paper manufacturer was also cited for a failure to adhere to standards related to lockout/tagout procedures, process safety management and personal protective equipment for employees.

"Unexpected energy such as steam has the potential to cause severe injuries when proper procedures are absent," said Basil Singh, OSHA Area Director, in a press release from the federal watchdog agency. "Using safe energy control procedures could have prevented this injury."

With a serious injury to an employee caused by an issue that could have been mitigated by the company if it had acted more quickly, and with a few different issues discovered during the subsequent inspection, OSHA issued a substantial fine. As is the case in all instances where the federal regulator issues a fine, the paper manufacturer has three options in terms of its response: comply with the fines and penalties, request an informal conference with the area OSHA director or contest the findings through the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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