Paper Company Fined $170,000 by OSHA for Alleged Recordkeeping Failures

OSHA has cited Toronto-based Fraser Papers Inc. for allegedly failing to record numerous injuries and illnesses that occurred at its Madawaska, Maine, mill between 2003 and 2005. The paper manufacturer faces a total of $170,000 in fines.

Acting on an employee complaint, OSHA examined the company's illness and injury logs and other medical data for mill employees from 2003 through 2005. According to OSHA, the agency's inspection found:

  • Fifty-nine instances in which injuries or illnesses were not recorded in the mill's OSHA 300 illness and injury log;
  • Seventy-seven instances in which injuries or illnesses were not recorded in the log within 7 days; and
  • Two years 2003 and 2004 for which incomplete annual illness and injury summaries were certified as being complete.

As a result of this inspection, OSHA issued three willful citations with $165,000 in fines. An additional $5,000 in fines was proposed for three other-than-serious citations for not recording medical injuries and illnesses as restricted-duty days or days away from work and not including all incident reports on OSHA 300 logs.

"The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses," said Anthony Lemire, OSHA's area director for Maine. "No one wins when the records are wrong, but it's the workers who stand to lose the most."

Proper recording of injuries and illnesses is the foundation of a workplace safety and health program, Lemire noted. Unrecorded or misrecorded injury and illness information can obscure the types and severity of injuries occurring in a workplace, undermining efforts to prevent them.

Fraser Papers manufactures printing, publishing and converting papers and has 3,150 employees in Canada and the United States, according to the company's Web site. The Madawaska, Maine, facility has 825 employees, according to the Web site.

On Oct.17, OSHA proposed $90,500 in penalties against Fraser Papers for a total of five willful and serious violations following the April 20 death of a worker in a fall at the mill.

Those citations and penalties for an alleged lack of fall protection, safety harness, hazard assessment and warning signs and failure to identify tank covers as walking and working surfaces are being contested.

A phone call placed to Fraser Papers' Toronto headquarters seeking comment was not immediately returned.

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