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Arbor Vitae lumber company fined $348K in worker death

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WAUSAU PILOT AND REVIEW

ARBOR VITAE, Wis. — A northwoods lumber mill is facing penalties of $348,467 in connection with the January death of a worker at the facility, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Joshua Drinkman, 30, of Eagle River, died Jan. 29 after he was caught in an outdoor bark conveyor belt at Pukall Lumber Co. in Arbor Vitae.

OSHA investigates all workplace fatalities. As a result of its investigation, the agency is citing the company with two “willful” violations along with 13 serious violations for safety hazards discovered at the facility. According to a news release, Pukall Lumber failed to ensure the conveyor belt had adequate guarding to prevent injuries. The company also did not implement energy control procedures, according to OSHA.

According to OSHA the company is in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

“Tragedies such as this are preventable when employers comply with safety standards that exist to protect employees from workplace hazards,” said OSHA Area Director Robert J. Bonack. “Employers must continually evaluate their facilities for hazards, and ensure supervisors properly train employees on the correct use of safety controls and equipment to prevent injuries and fatalities on the job.”

The company has 15 business days to comply or contest the citations.

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