Flambeau River Papers has come under scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for failing to protect its workers from exposure to sulfur dioxide.
At the company’s Park Falls paper mill, sulfur dioxide is used to prepare wood pulp for paper manufacturing. Despite the chemical’s usefulness, prolonged exposure can irritate the lungs and throat and cause numerous health complications.
Dangers of Sulfur Dioxide Exposure
Sulfur dioxide gas quickly forms sulfurous acid when it comes in contact with moist membranes. The gas can severely irritate the eyes, mucous membranes and skin. Prolonged or significant exposure can irritate the respiratory system, causing coughing and choking. In large amounts, it can cause respiratory paralysis and pulmonary edema, or fluid in the lungs.
The company was cited for six violations of OSHA’s process safety management standards, which regulate how companies must handle hazardous chemicals. According to reports, the company failed to document safe operating limits or implement a mechanical integrity program.
The facility also failed to comply with good engineering practices for equipment, like conducting annual audits of lockout/tagout procedures.
Seven total OSHA citations will cost the company $42,300. Flambeau River Papers has 15 days to comply with the citations or contest OSHA’s findings before the independent Occupational Safety Health Review Commission.
Improper handling of dangerous chemicals is a common occurrence that can have disastrous consequences. Long-term exposure can have lasting effects on an employee’s health, creating unforeseen medical expenses and may even require time off work. At Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC, we want to fight for your right to work in a hazard-free environment. Call us to schedule a free consultation about your workers comp claim.
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC
—Columbus Workers Comp Attorneys