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Oregon OSHA - 350 Winter Street NE Room 430 - Salem, Oregon 97301-3882
For Immediate Release
June 5, 2006

Contact for more Information:
Kevin Weeks, Oregon OSHA, 503-947-7428

Oregon OSHA cites Boise Cascade for death of worker

(Salem) The Department of Consumer and Business Services, Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) has cited Boise Cascade LLC for the death of a worker in the company’s wood products facility in Umatilla. The citation contains three alleged safety violations and assesses a proposed civil penalty of $142,500.


Gordon Cecil, 52, of Hermiston, was killed Dec. 16, 2005 while working in Boise Cascade’s Umatilla facility operating machines for converting waste wood into chips for use in a hog fuel burner. Cecil and a co-worker were using a piece of wood to poke at a clog in a chipping machine while the machine’s hood guard meant to protect workers was raised. A safety interlock system on the machine did not allow use while the hood guard was raised; however, the employer had installed a bypass switch to permit operation of the chipping machine while the guard was raised or open. Shortly after hearing the clogged wood release inside the machine, Cecil ran away from the machine and was struck in the back of the head by a fragment of log ejected by the machine. He was pronounced dead at the scene.


Oregon OSHA began an investigation into the death. After nearly five months of employee interviews, research, and review of the employer’s safety and health management program, Oregon OSHA found that safety protocols designed to protect workers from serious injury had been bypassed with the knowledge of supervisors at the Umatilla facility.


Three violations of the Oregon Safe Employment Act were identified:


  • The employer did not supervise workers in safe operation of machinery at the facility. The investigation determined that workers had been instructed to raise the chipping machine’s hood guard that protected workers from debris being ejected. Workers had been instructed to use a safety bypass switch on the machine to reduce production downtime when clearing wood jams in the machine. (Willful violation, $70,000 penalty)


  • The employer did not take all reasonable means to require that employees did not displace safety guards on machines. A safety bypass switch was installed, defeating a manufacturer-installed safety interlock system, to allow the chipper machine to operate when the hood guard was raised or open. The citation alleges that plant management encouraged the practice of unclogging the chipper while running with the hood guard open as the fastest method of removing a clog without delaying production. (Willful violation, $70,000 penalty)


  • Lockout-tagout control procedures did not specifically instruct employees on a process for shutting down, securing, and isolating the chipping machine to protect employees from the equipment suddenly starting. (Serious violation, $2,500 penalty)


Two violations are classified as “Willful,” the highest level of Oregon OSHA violation, and the third is classified as “Serious.” The civil penalty for each alleged Willful violation is set at the discretion of the Oregon OSHA administrator, to a maximum of $70,000 per violation, while the penalty for the Serious violation is based on the likelihood and severity of potential injuries resulting from that hazard.


Boise Cascade LLC has filed an appeal with Oregon OSHA regarding the violations alleged in the citation.