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January 12, 2024
Wisconsin sawmill fined $284K in follow-up inspection

Wisconsin sawmill Tigerton Lumber Co. faces $283,608 in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalties after a follow-up inspection, the agency announced January 9.

The company was added to OSHA’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program (SVEP) in 2019 after an agency investigation into how an employee suffered fatal injuries in 2018. Employers in the SVEP are subject to follow-up inspections.

OSHA cited Tigerton Lumber on December 22, 2023, with 3 repeat, 14 serious, and 2 other-than-serious violations. Inspectors found that Tigerton Lumber violated federal regulations for energy control procedures and failed to affix personal locks needed as part of its lockout/tagout program to prevent equipment from operating while employees cleared debris, changed blades, and serviced equipment. The sawmill also failed to provide employees with required safety training, according to the agency.

OSHA inspectors cited the following safety violations: 

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

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

In October, OSHA announced that its lockout/tagout standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1910.147) was its sixth most frequently cited standard in fiscal year (FY) 2023, cited 2,554 times. The machine guarding standard (§1910.212) was the 10th most cited standard, cited 1,644 times.

DOL gets Massachusetts builder’s license revoked

In response to a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) complaint, the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards has revoked William Trahant’s construction supervisor’s license for at least 2 years. The Lynn, Massachusetts, builder has received 7 separate citations since 2014 for violating federal fall safety regulations and has failed to pay more than $300,000 in related penalties, according to the DOL.

OSHA and the DOL’s regional solicitor’s office in Boston presented evidence against Trahant, owner of William Trahant Jr. Construction Inc., before the board’s hearing officer. The hearing officer ordered Trahant to return his license and cease any work on active building permits he holds until a successor license holder is substituted or Trahant regains his license.

According to OSHA, Trahant currently holds a number of active building permits in Massachusetts.

The state requires construction supervisor’s licenses for projects that meet certain thresholds and can revoke them when holders fail to comply with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act.

OSHA announced in October that its construction industry fall protection standard was its most frequently cited standard for the 13th straight year.

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