Burrows Paper Corporation has been fined almost $300,000 for repeat and serious safety violations at two of its US sites.
The US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found 21 violations and proposed penalties of $195,800 at the Mohawk Valley Paper Mill.
The agency also reported 10 violations and set fines of $102,300 at the Mill Street Paper Mill.
A safety inspection of the two paper mills started in September last year and after visiting numerous times, the inspection was finalized on March 21. The notices were received three days later.
Burrows Paper Corporation operates four paper mills and five packaging converting facilities in New York, Ohio, Nevada, Iowa, Mississippi and the US and The Netherlands and China.
Rose Mihaly, president and chief operating officer (COO), said three of the hazards remain to be remedied.
“Some of the findings required extra effort such as equipment or parts needed ordering so that is in the process of being finalised,” she told FoodQualityNews.com.
“For repeatable offences fines are more significant. We have taken very seriously the feedback received from OSHA and redoubled our efforts and paid close attention to the findings.
“Reviews at any of our facilities will be purposely shared across the entity, not to avoid fines but to benefit collectively as a safe place to work.
“We can learn from [the repeat violations] and leverage the valuable feedback to benefit our processes.”
The inspections were part of OSHA's Site-Specific Targeting inspection plan because the company's injury and illness rates exceeded national incident rates for 2009 and 2010.
During the inspection of the Mohawk Valley Mill OSHA inspectors found three serious safety violations for stairways that lacked railings; papermaking machines that lacked guarding to prevent employee contact with their moving parts; and an electrical hazard related to the use of equipment not approved for the location.
Inspectors identified six repeat violations for safety hazards related to falls, lack of eyewash stations and additional machine guarding and electrical hazards.
The inspection of the East Mill found two serious safety violations for exposure to combustible paper dust, electrical issues and a malfunctioning exit light. It identified four repeat safety violations for machines with insufficient guarding.
OSHA had previously cited Burrows in 2010 and 2011 for similar hazards at locations in Little Falls and Lyons Falls.
A statement from the firm said that it took the findings ‘very seriously’ and most of the hazards were corrected immediately upon identification.
“Since the inspection, Burrows representatives have continued to work closely with OSHA and have developed, in collaboration with union leadership, a policy for resolving any remaining hazards and a process going forward to ensure compliance.
“As Burrows continues on our path of growth and transformation, we are committed to ensuring that employee safety is systematic and part of the very fabric of our organization.
“The health and safety of our employees underpins every aspect our strategic plan, from structure and process to practice, communication, and training.”