Worker dies from woodchipper-related injuries, sawmill fined $267K 

Worker dies from woodchipper-related injuries, sawmill fined $267K 

July 10, 2024
The Georgia sawmill was cited for one willful violation for not following hazardous energy control procedures and one repeat violation for failing to apply LOTO devices to isolate all energy sources.

An OSHA investigation has determined that Thompson Hardwoods Inc. could have prevented the death of a 24-year-old employee. The worker was trying to clear a log jam in a woodchipper when the equipment activated, causing serious injuries. The employee was rushed to a nearby hospital where they eventually succumbed to their injuries.  

The Georgia sawmill was cited for one willful violation for not following hazardous energy control procedures and one repeat violation for failing to apply lockout/tagout devices to isolate all energy sources. Two serious violations and one other-than-serious violation were given to the company for not properly training employees on lockout/tagout procedures and not enclosing the chain and sprocket on the shape chipper’s outfeed. Because of these violations, Thompson Hardwoods faces $267,327 in penalties. 

What people are saying

In a recent quote, OSHA Acting Area Director Audrey Windham said, “We learned that Thompson Hardwoods added new equipment to increase production but did not mitigate potential hazards before allowing workers to service and maintain the new equipment. Workers handling any machinery may be seriously or fatally injured when all sources of energy are not removed. Sadly, the company’s failures leave a family and a community to grieve a terrible, preventable loss.” 

OSHA in the news

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About the Author

Alexis Gajewski | Senior Content Strategist

Alexis Gajewski has over 15 years of experience in the maintenance, reliability, operations, and manufacturing space. She joined Plant Services in 2008 and works to bring readers the news, insight, and information they need to make the right decisions for their plants. Alexis also authors “The Lighter Side of Manufacturing,” a blog that highlights the fun and innovative advances in the industrial sector. 

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