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Employer fined after worker killed by conveyor belt


A Wisconsin paper mill faces proposed penalties of $119,000 from federal regulators after a fatal workplace accident.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Cellu Tissue-City Forest L.L.C. after a machine operator died as he serviced a high-speed conveyor belt in a Ladysmith, Wisconsin-based paper mill in October 2015, according to a statement issued by the agency on Monday.

OSHA cited Cellu, which is owned by Spokane, Washington-based Clearwater Paper Corp., for one willful, one repeat and two serious safety violations and said it had previously cited Cellu in 2012 for inadequate machine safety procedures at the same facility.

“Workers at the Clearwater Paper mill were exposed to dangerous machine hazards on a daily basis because their employer failed to properly prevent contact with operating machinery,” Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, said in a statement.

A Clearwater spokesman said the safety and health of its team members was the company's highest priority and expressed condolences to the family of the deceased worker, Michael Quinlan. Clearwater has and will continue to cooperate with OSHA and plans to meet with agency officials to discuss a potential resolution, but the spokesman also expressed concern about OSHA's characterizations of the violations and said there were no willful or repeat violations related to the fatal accident.

“Ladysmith's injury and illness rate was well below the industry average, and prior to the accident there had not been a recordable injury or illness for more than 365 days,” the spokesman said.