OSHA Fines Georgia Sawmill $267,300 After Death of Worker

July 5, 2024

A Georgia sawmill could have prevented the death of a 24-year-old worker last year if it had followed safety procedures and federal regulations, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in fining the mill $267,300.

“We learned that Thompson Hardwoods added new equipment to increase production but did not mitigate potential hazards before allowing workers to service and maintain the new equipment,” OSHA Acting Area Director Audrey Windham said in a statement.

The worker, whose name was not released, was clearing a jam inside a wood chipper when the machine was turned on. An OSHA investigation found that the mill in Hazelhurst had not trained workers on lockout/tagout procedures that can prevent hazardous equipment from being energized at the wrong time.

“Workers handling any machinery may be seriously or fatally injured when all sources of energy are not removed,” Wyndham said.

OSHA citied Thompson Hardwoods, which is owned by Delaware-based BeasleyJohnson Holdings, for willful, repeat and serious violations of safety regulations. The company has two weeks to contest the findings.

Sawmills have long been considered one of the most hazardous work sites. A similar fatal incident occurred at a Pollard Lumber Co. mill in Appling, Georgia, in February, according to local news reports. A 63-year-old worker was killed inside a wood chipper at the mill.

In Alabama, OSHA fined a Phenix City mill almost $2.5 million in February after the death of a 67-year-old worker, the second fatality in three years.

Topics Workers' Compensation Georgia

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