Safety and OSHA News

Dust ignites, worker dies from severe burns; $211K OSHA fine

Combustible dust led to the death of a paper manufacturer employee. OSHA says the company “must take prompt and effective steps to ensure that this never happens again.” 

The 57-year-old mechanic, identified in local media as Jorg Borowski, was removing filter bags of combustible fly ash dust from a dust collector at International Paper Co.’s Ticonderoga, NY, plant and replacing them with new bags when the ash ignited.

OSHA cited International Paper for two willful, one repeat and three serious violations for:

  • not providing protective equipment, including gear for eyes, face, head and extremities as well as respiratory devices, shields and barriers that were fire resistant (willful)
  • not providing employee training on the physical and health hazards of chemicals, specifically combustible fly ash (willful)
  • not conducting a periodic inspection of the energy control procedures at least annually to make sure they are effective (repeat)
  • a General Duty Clause violation for exposing employees to combustible dust (serious)
  • energy control procedures that didn’t include specific steps for shutting down, isolating, blocking and securing the dust conveyor system from its power source during maintenance (serious), and
  • installing blower and exhaust systems for dust, stock and vapor removal that wasn’t in compliance with National Fire Protection Association standards (serious).

OSHA also placed International Paper in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance by employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.

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

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