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Pukall Lumber cited by OSHA

July 30, 2019 by Brian Jopek

Pukall Lumber Company of Arbor Vitae has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for exposing employees to multiple safety hazards.

The citations, issued July 17, are in relation to an accident claiming the life of Joshua Drinkman, 30, Eagle River, on Jan. 29, 2019, as well as OSHA followup visits to the company.

An OSHA press release issued July 24 stated Drinkman suffered fatal injuries when he was caught in an outdoor bark conveyor belt. 

Pukall Lumber was cited by OSHA for “two willful violations for failing to implement energy control procedures, and ensure the conveyer had adequate guarding to prevent employees from coming in contact with the moving parts,” the press release said. 

As a result of OSHA visits following Drinkman’s death, Pukall Lumber was also cited for 13 “serious violations” including exposing employees to falls, electrical safety, welding and woodworking hazards. 

Failing to install machine guarding, implement lockout/tagout procedures, label containers with product identifiers and appropriate warnings and properly store oxygen and fuel tanks were also violations found leading OSHA to place the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

Robert Bonack, OSHA’s area director based in Appleton, said in the OSHA press release tragedies such as Drinkman’s death are preventable “when employers comply with safety standards that exist to protect employees from workplace hazards.” 

“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,” he said. 

Pukall Lumber was given 15 business days from the date of receipt (July 17) of the citations and penalties to respond with compliance, request an informal conference with Bonack or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The company faces penalties of nearly $350,000. 

In a statement, Pukall president Rick Wilson said the company is reviewing the citations and no decision has been made as to whether or not they will be contested. 

“We have been working closely with the OSHA inspectors since the accident to correct all areas of concern,” he said. “The safety of our employees is our highest priority, and we deeply regret Josh’s death.”

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected]

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