Gulf States cleared by OSHA

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 16, 2004

The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lifted both the citation and financial penalties it imposed Feb. 23 on Gulf States Paper Corporation in relation to a fatal accident at the company’s Demopolis pulp and paperboard mill, company officials said Monday.

OSHA cited Burkes Mechanical, Inc. and Gulf States Paper Corporation following the investigation of the Sept. 24, 2003, fatal accident. Burkes received four citations and fines totaling $81,900. Gulf States was given one citation and fined $6,300 for failing to provide warning signs around the conveyor alerting employees of “caught-in” hazards..

On the day of the accident, Burkes employees were removing wood and bark chips underneath a moving conveyor belt and shoveling them back onto the conveyor. An employee reportedly went into a marrow opening to remove bark that had accumulated under the belt. According to information from OSHA, his shovel caught between a roller and the underside of the moving conveyor pulling him into the machinery and trapping him.

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“After consulation with OSHA officials where we had the opportunity to further discuss the issue, the agency agreed to remove the citation and fine, and notified us of that finding in an agreement signed March 12,” according to Gulf States spokesperson Dan Meissner.

“We are very pleased that OSHA reviewed our case and cleared Gulf States of this citation,” Meissner said. “We take pride in maintaining a safety-oriented operation and will continue to emphasize safety throughout our mill.”