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Wisconsin Sawmill Continues to Expose Employees to Amputation Hazards, OSHA Says

Tigerton Lumber has been cited for similar violations after a worker suffered fatal injuries in 2018.

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A follow-up OSHA inspection at Tigerton Lumber in Tigerton, Wisconsin, has found that the sawmill continued to expose employees to amputation and other dangers. The inspection was part of a federal program for severe violators. The company was deemed a severe violator in 2019 after an investigation into how an employee suffered fatal injuries in 2018.

The July 2023 inspection found the lumber company violated federal regulations for energy control procedures, and failed to affix personal locks needed as part of lockout/tagout program to prevent equipment from operating while employees cleared debris, changed blades and serviced equipment. OSHA also learned the sawmill failed to provide employees with required safety training.

After inspections of Tigerton’s maintenance shop, stacking and planning area and the sawmill, OSHA cited Tigerton Lumber for three repeat violations, 14 serious violations and two other-than-serious violations. The agency assessed $283,608 in proposed penalties.

“In 2018, a Tigerton Lumber Co. employee was fatally injured in a tragic and preventable incident caused by similar hazards found during this inspection. The company is legally required to ensure safety devices are used and procedures followed to protect workers from dangerous machinery,” explained OSHA Area Director Robert Bonack in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Specifically, OSHA inspectors cited the following safety violations:

  • Inadequate machine guarding on belts, pulleys, shafts, chains and sprockets.
  • Belt and pulley not closed completely to prevent employee injury.
  • Stairs without railings, exposing workers to fall hazards.
  • Conveyors not properly guarded, operated or maintained.
  • Lower landing area of stackers and un-stackers did not have safety guards to prevent access.
  • Hazards near ring barkers, and conveyors not fenced off or marked as prohibited areas.
  • Barriers and warning signs not posted to prevent employees from entering dangerous spaces.
  • Open and unsafe electrical boxes.

Opened in 1987, Tigerton Lumber Co. employs about 60 workers at its sawmill.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

 

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