Feds fine Mead, Cianbro in fatal accident at paper mill
By Eileen M. Adams
The local paper mill and one of its subcontractors have been cited by the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration on several safety violations connected with the death of a Canton man in September. OSHA ended its 10-week investigation last week into the death of James Pelletier, 38, who was electrocuted during an accident at Mead Paper Division, said Bill Freeman, OSHA area director. Pelletier, a pipefitter for Cianbro Corp. of Pittsfield, was electrocuted on Sept. 23 while he was repairing a fitting on a cooling system for electrical panels. Alan Burton, a spokesman for Cianbro, said Pelletier was repairing the cooling system when he dropped a crescent wrench. When he tried to retrieve it, he apparently walked into an energized 110-volt circuit. Mead was fined a total of $9,500 and directed by OSHA to assure that live exposed parts an employee might come in contact with be de-energized before an employee works near them. The citation also states that the mill had not developed, documented or utilized procedures for the control of potentially hazardous energy when employees were engaged in maintenance of the two cooling pumps. A statement from Mead spokeswoman Susan Parella said the fine will be paid by the end of the week. The company has no current plans to appeal the citations. The issues in both citations have also been addressed, according to Parella. Cianbro was cited for similar safety violations and directed to pay a fine of $7,000 and bring the violations into compliance. Specifically, the citations say that Pelletier was allowed to work inside the cooling pump room in which 120 volts were exposed. Further, Cianbro did not determine whether any part of the volt power circuit or volt control circuit were live before allowing Pelletier to begin work. Burton said the company doesn’t expect to contest the fine. In addition, he said his company will hold an informal conference with OSHA representatives later in the month to discuss the incident and to let OSHA know that Cianbro is serious about safety. He said the company has taken additional steps to insure that such an accident doesn’t happen again. “We’ve reviewed our policies and procedures regarding energy sources and have revised as needed, including taking disciplinary action if procedures are violated,” he said. “Our intention is to follow OSHA.” The fatal accident occurred during the mill’s annual shutdown for paper machine maintenance. On July 21, 1998, Richard Whittemore, 27, of Mexico, an employee of subcontractor Bancroft Contracting Corp. of Paris, was electrocuted while using an electric arc welder in hot and damp conditions at the paper mill.