ST. REGIS, MT – Tricon Timber LLC, which bills itself as Montana's largest family-owned sawmill operation, was cited for 25 serious and two repeat safety violations and fined $128,700 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The safety citations stem from an inspection of Tricon TImber's St. Regis sawmill after OSHA received a complaint alleging that workers had been injured. Tricon Timber specializes in the manufacture of doweled lodgepole fencing products.

TriconTimber's two repeat OSHA safety violations, totaling $48,510 in proposed penalties, are failing to guard augers in the boiler room and ensure that the shaft ends on stackers are guarded.

The serious violations include failing to ensure that workers are protected from fall hazards by providing standard guardrails, include workers in a fully implemented respiratory protection program, provide adequate personal protective equipment, provide an eyewash and emergency shower station, implement a comprehensive energy control program and guard machines.

The OSHA action is the second blow to Tricon Timber in the past two months. In June, the Clark Valley Fork Press reported that Tricon Lumber was in jeopardy of closing because it could not afford to remove logs using helicopters as required in four timber sale contracts purchased from the U.S. Forest Service.

A letter penned by the Mineral County Commissioners seeking Congressional assistance for Tricon Timber, noted, “The cost of logging with helicopter creates logs that cost $560 per thousand board feet when delivered to the sawmil.  After Tricon Timber manufactures logs into lumber it sells for $240 per thousand board feet. If Tricon Timber were to harvest the helicopter logs it would lose money on every log. The estimated cash loss for the US Forest Service helicopter sales held by Tricon Timber would exceed $7 million.”

The U.S. Forest Service has reportedly taken the stance that Tricon is obligated to fulfill its contract, even if it means losing money. The Forest Service could deny the company further opportunities to purchase timber from federal land if it reneges on its deal.

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