NIAGARA, WI – OSHA says employees at Wood Fibers Inc. worked at risk of amputation, fire, and electrical shock amid large amounts of combustible dust. The October 2014 citation, the fifth in three years at the wood pellets maker, carried proposed fines of $71,610. 

OSHA said Wood Fiber Inc. failed to proved hazards from prior inspections had been fixed or pay earlier penalties.

"Wood Fibers clearly ignores federal OSHA regulations," said Robert Bonack, OSHA's area director in Appleton. "This is unacceptable."

Following an employee complaint, OSHA inspectors visited Wood Fiber's Niagra, WI plant to find employees operating machines without effective safeguards from moving parts, and large amounts of

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combustible wood dust accumulated throughout the facility. OSHA issued four repeated and eight serious safety violations with penalties totalling $71,610.

 

Wood Fibers produces residential and commercial heating pellets, animal bedding pellets, premium boiler fuel and organic landscape mulch.

Wood Fibers was cited in 2012 after three inspections at the facility. OSHA issues repeated violations if an employer was previously cited for the same or a similar violations within the last five years.

OSHA says inspectors found lockout/tagout devices were not used to prevent equipment from starting during maintenance. Electrical safety hazards were posed by damaged extension cords and missing faceplates and openings in electrical enclosures. Flexible cords were used where fixed wiring should have been installed.

While combustible dust is not a health hazard in itself, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board identified 281 combustible dust incidents between 1980 and 2005 that led to the deaths of 119 workers, 718 injuries and extensive damage to numerous industrial facilities.

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