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OSHA slams Packaging Corporation of America for amputation hazards

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By Jenni Spinner+

Last updated on 05-Aug-2014 at 01:08 GMT

Packaging Corporation of America has been hit with nearly $112,000 in fines for workplace safety violations.
Packaging Corporation of America has been hit with nearly $112,000 in fines for workplace safety violations.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing fines approaching $112,000 against Packaging Corporation America for allegedly failing to protect its workers from amputation and other serious hazards.

The paperboard packaging company first was called out after staff complaints moved OSHA staff to visit the firm’s Akron, Ohio facility for an inspection. Workers reportedly were reaching into machines to clear jams without first turning off the machinery; complaints also claimed workers stood directly on conveyor belts, and worked forklifts without adequate training.

Unacceptable risks

OSHA area director Howard Eberts said the allegations—which are not the first leveraged against one of the Illinois-based firm’s facilities—constitute unacceptable dangers to the packaging company’s workforce.

"This is the second time in two years an inspection at one of Packaging Corporation of America's facilities has found significant safety violations,” he said. “What is happening at the plant demonstrates a company culture that does not value safety and puts employees at risk each day.

Repeat violations

The violation list issued to Packaging Corporation of America includes five specific repeat infractions. The violations include a lack of specific lockout/tag procedures, inadequate machine guarding, failure to put in place procedures to control hazardous energy, and insufficient forklift training.

According to OSHA, Packaging Corporation of America had been cited for similar violations at facilities in Alabama and Wisconsin over the past five years. In total, the agency reportedly has cited the company for serious violations more than 100 times during that time, most recently after a worker sustained serious burns attempting to relight a steam boiler at the Wisconsin plant.

A serious OSHA violation occurs if the agency determines there is substantial probability serious physical injury or death could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. Packaging Corporation of America also was cited with two non-serious violations.

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