MAPLESVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — An Alabama mill is being accused of bypassing safety regulations, leading to the death of one of its workers last year.
In a press release sent out by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, South Coast Paper’s facility in Maplesville allegedly violated its safety standards by failing to turn off machinery during maintenance. The allegations are part of an investigation OSHA took part in following the death of 36-year-old worker who was electrocuted while working on a machine on September 28, 2022.
According to the investigation, the victim was part of a three-person team at the company working on a line of a machine used to turn paper rolls into copier paper when they noticed the conveyor belts had stopped.
“During actions to replace the belt’s motor – without de-energizing the machines in use – a hot wire made contact with the ground and energized the machine,” the release stated. “The 36-year-old worker suffered electrocution when he grabbed a metal rail connected to the conveyor system.”
OSHA has proposed $227,040 in penalties against South Coast Paper for the violations, citing them with one willful violation for “allowing employees to perform maintenance on machinery without ensuring the development and documentation of hazardous energy control procedures,” as well as a repeat violation for allowing workers to perform maintenance on machines without the proper training. Additionally, the agency cited South Coast Paper for lack of machine guarding and not providing clear access in front of a 480-volt breaker panel.
Last June, OSHA cited the company for a similar violation at its plant in Burlington, New Jersey.
“There is no reason to perform maintenance on machinery without first taking all steps to de-energize that piece of equipment. Doing otherwise places workers at serious risk for injury and death,” OSHA Area Office Director Jose Gonzalez said in the statement. “South Coast Paper’s failure to follow established safety procedures cost this worker their life and has left family, friends and co-workers to mourn.”