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OSHA fines Wisconsin paper mill $119K for 2015 death of worker

A federal investigation into a fatal accident at a Wisconsin paper mill recently concluded that the mill is responsible for the death of one of its workers. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the employer, Clearwater Paper Corp., for four safety violations, including one willful violation, and has proposed $119,000 in fines.

The victim was killed in October while working on a high-speed conveyor belt. The belt apparently started without warning and the worker became caught, The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reports.

The director of the Eau Claire area OSHA office said that his agency has been requiring employers to power down and lock out machinery for maintenance or service for more than 25 years. Still, employers regularly ignore this rule, which mystifies the directors, especially with all the deaths and amputations these machines cause. “It only takes a few minutes to follow specific procedures,” he said.

Had Clearwater Paper followed these procedures, the victim would not have died, the OSHA area director said.

Despite state and federal safety rules, too many people are getting killed on the job. There have been at least six workplace deaths in the past nine months in northwestern Wisconsin alone.

Such incidents are devastating for the victim’s family, but an injury need not be fatal to put a household in serious trouble. A nonfatal accident can cause a permanent or temporary disability, and force you out of work for months, if not years. Workers’ compensation can help make up for that lost income, and pay for your medical bills.

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