The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Cascades Boxboard Group - Connecticut LLC for 52 alleged serious and repeat violations of safety standards at its Versailles, Conn., paper mill. The company faces $323,000 in proposed fines following a comprehensive OSHA inspection begun in July in response to employee complaints.
The citations address a broad cross section of chemical, electrical, mechanical, fire and fall hazards as well as crushing hazards posed by the deteriorating condition of the mill building. OSHA's inspection found numerous instances throughout the building of extensive rust, corrosion and physical damage that compromised its structural stability.
"There is no excuse for employees to work in such conditions," said C. William Freeman III, OSHA's area director in Hartford. "The hazardous conditions must be addressed promptly, effectively and completely to protect the safety and health of these workers. Failure to pay proper and timely attention to safety and health requirements, including building maintenance, can result in considerable human and financial costs down the line."
Specific conditions identified during the inspection included unguarded machinery; unguarded floor openings; damaged ladders; lack of fall protection; uninspected or inadequately maintained fire extinguishers; corroded wire lifting slings; lack of personal protective equipment; and deficiencies involving respirators, fork trucks, propane tanks, electrical safety, hazardous energy control, hazard communication and work in confined spaces. These conditions resulted in the issuance of 49 serious citations with $200,500 in proposed fines. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.
Four repeat citations, with $122,500 in fines, have been issued for conditions similar to those cited in a 2007 OSHA inspection. These included 86 instances of unguarded moving machine parts; open-sided platforms unguarded or inadequately guarded against falls; stairs lacking railings; and several locations where floors were not maintained in dry condition.
Cascades Boxboard Group - Connecticut LLC has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to meet with OSHA or to contest them to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.