Weyerhaeuser Fires Plant, Safety Managers For Recordkeeping Abuses

When Weyerhaeuser vice president Don Berry announced late last year he was promoting plant manager Len Komori to be a general manager, the first reason Berry gave was, "Len's plants consistently display a strong safety culture and achieve business-leading safety performance."

Less than one year later, following an expose published on OccupationalHazards.com about recordkeeping abuses at the facility he managed, the company announced it has discharged Komori for failing to record at least 38 injuries and illnesses at the Buckhannon, W.Va. plant he managed until his promotion Dec. 1, 2003. Weyerhaeuser also fired the safety manager of the facility, Dick Curry.

"These actions reinforce the gravity with which our senior management team and board of directors view this incident," said company spokesperson Frank Mendizabal. "Following appropriate safety practices is a condition of employment with Weyerhaeuser."

Now that Weyerhaeuser has fired the two managers most directly involved in falsifying OSHA logs, it remains to be seen whether the company will dig deeper and try to discover if the problem extends beyond two managers at a single facility.

Several Weyerhaeuser plants belong to OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program. How closely are Weyerhaeuser - and OSHA - examining the low recordable rates these sites must maintain to remain in the program?

There is evidence several company executives knew about the falsified OSHA logs at Buckhannon, but did nothing about it. Will the company hold accountable those who looked the other way at Buckhannon's problems? How was it that Komori was promoted after evidence surfaced that he had falsified Buckhannon's OSHA logs?

In announcing the discharge of Komori and Curry, Weyerhaeuser spokesperson Mendizabal suggested further action may lie ahead:

"We will discipline employees who were aware or should have been aware of the failure to record safety incidents."

For more on this story, see "Weyerhaeuser: A Falling Star in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program?" and "Weyerhaeuser Pays for Faulty Audit."

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