Death from fall linked to willful, serious hazards
February 4, 2022 | 5:39 pm CST

W.D. Townley and Son Lumber Company Inc. faces nearly $400,000 in fines after the death from a fall of an 86-year-old worker.

Photo By W.D. Townley and Son Lumber Company Inc.

HENDERSON, Texas – A federal investigation into fatal injuries suffered by an 86-year-old worker at a Henderson sawmill and pallet manufacturer found the company exposed workers to hazardous energy sources and lack of machine guarding.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an inspection on July 28, 2021, after receiving a report that the worker had fallen from a stack of pallets on July 6, 2021, at W.D. Townley and Son Lumber Company Inc.

OSHA cited the company for willful violations for failing to use energy control procedures and implement a hearing conservation program, as required by law. The agency also issued citations for serious violations for lack of machine guarding, failing to use personal protective equipment, not addressing the hazards from operating powered industrial trucks, and neglecting to notify OSHA within 8 hours of a work-related fatality as required. The lumber company faces $389,706 in proposed penalties.

“Sawmill operations can be hazardous work, but it should not be life-threatening,” said OSHA Area Director Basil Singh in Dallas. “W.D. Townley and Son Lumber Company Inc. showed a complete disregard for their employees’ well-being. OSHA will hold employers accountable when they neglect their legal responsibility to provide workers with a safe workplace.”

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

A telephone call to the company went unanswered, and a message sent to the company via its website was not returned.

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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).