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Employee dies after accident at Williamsport paper plant

June 01, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WILLIAMSPORT

A Maryland Paper Co. employee died Wednesday after being caught between two machines at the plant that recycles paper products into roofing material, a company official said.

Operations Manager George Delaplaine said the employee, a 58-year-old Williamsport resident, had worked there for seven months. He didn't want to publicly release the employee's name until he was sure the family knew about the death.

"The employee somehow was pinched between two pieces of machinery" Delaplaine wrote in an e-mailed statement.

During an interview at Maryland Paper Co.'s office, Delaplaine wouldn't go into detail about the accident, but said there was no indication anything was wrong with the machinery. He said "safeguards" were in place.

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Maryland Paper Co. is on Elliott Parkway, off Md. 63, north of Williamsport. About 75 people work there, according to Delaplaine.

The company turns bales of discarded cardboard and newspapers into roofing paper. On its Web site, the company describes its final product as "roofing felt."

The accident happened about 12:15 p.m., Delaplaine said. A coworker who saw it happen was "in shock," he said.

The victim appeared to be alive when an ambulance took him to Washington County Hospital, but the company got a call about 2:45 p.m. saying he had died, Delaplaine said.

Maryland Occupational Safety and Health was investigating the incident, said Linda Sherman, the director of communications for the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, which includes MOSH. She had no other information Wednesday afternoon.

The Washington County Sheriff's Department was looking into the case, too. Investigator Chris Weaver said it was being treated as an industrial accident.

In 1994, five years after Maryland Paper Co. started, employee Kristoffer P. Loden, 19, of Hagerstown, lost his footing and was pulled into a paper rewinder machine. He was crushed to death.

Loden had worked at the company for 17 days before he died, according to a report on the accident posted at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's Facility Assessment and Control Evaluation Program's Web site. The report did not list the company's or victim's names.

The report says materials at Maryland Paper Co. "were broken down to a slurry and formed into paper. The paper traveled through a series of driers before it was rolled ... and then wound onto a steel shaft. The final step in the production process was the rewinder machine."

Three recommendations were listed at the end of the report, including installing guards to prevent employee contact with part of the machinery. The report says the company "was designing a barrier guard that would be lowered into position during the rewinding process."

Staff writer Pepper Ballard contributed to this story.

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