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W.Va. company cited by OSHA

August 17, 2000

W.Va. company cited by OSHA



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - During a federal inspection of the Halltown Paperboard Co. earlier this year, officials noticed water leaking on some controls of electrical equipment, presenting a possible shock hazard, according to a federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration spokeswoman.

Some electrical equipment at the plant was also missing protective covers designed to prevent shock, said Leni Uddyback-Fortson, spokeswoman for the OSHA office in Philadelphia.

The safety violations were found at Halltown Paperboard as part of an investigation conducted at the plant on Feb. 15, Uddyback-Fortson alleged.

Halltown Paperboard Co. did not return a phone call.

According to OSHA, other alleged violations at the plant included:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> lack of guardrails and inadequate guardrails on open sides of working surfaces.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> unprotected pits.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> lack of an eye wash and shower where caustic material is handled.

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HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> exposure to excessive noise.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> incorrect wiring in a flammable storage area.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> lack of protective equipment for workers handling corrosive material.

The plant was also cited for not having precautions in place to protect workers from unexpected start-up of machines, said Uddyback-Fortson.

Sometimes there are mechanisms that can prevent inadvertent machine-start ups, or there are signs that can warn of unexpected start-ups, Uddyback-Fortson said.

OSHA conducted its investigation at Halltown Paperboard as part of its inspection of industries with high injury rates, agency officials said. Although paperboard companies can fall into that category, Uddyback-Fortson said she was not aware of any problems with injuries at Halltown Paperboard.

Halltown Paperboard was issued 35 "serious" violations resulting in a penalty of $100,500, according to Stanley Elliot, OSHA's area director in Charleston.

A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard, OSHA officials said.

Halltown Paperboard was also issued three repeat violations resulting in a penalty of $27,500 and 14 "other-than-serious" violations that did not carry any penalty, according to Elliot.

The repeat violations were issued because the company failed to correct slippery floor conditions caused by water and wet materials and failed to guard unguarded ditches and unguarded runways identified during a previous inspection, agency officials alleged.

The "other-than-serious" violations were for defective ladders, electrical violations, lack of labeling on material containers, unguarded floor holes, noise violations and respirator deficiencies, the agency said.

The company has 15 working days to contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Halltown Paperboard, which was purchased by Kansas-based Republic Group Inc. in 1995, is the oldest continuing manufacturing facility in West Virginia. The plant, at Old Route 340 and Halltown Road north of Charles Town, began as a grist mill in 1760.

It employs about 196 workers who produce paperboard that is used for everything from cigar boxes to game boards. Sales at the plant have been as high as $23 million recently, company officials said.

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