The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited the company for a total of seven breaches of federal workplace safety standards. A wilful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health, said the body.
The agency has proposed a penalty of $70,000 for failing to provide adequate personal protection equipment to workers in the aftermath of a caustic solution spill.
"There is no excuse for a company that deals with caustic material not to have proper protective equipment and procedures in place to protect its workers," said OSHA area director George Yoksas in Milwaukee. "Those who ignore safe practices and OSHA regulations are inviting tragedy into the lives of their workers."
OSHA has also slapped PCA with a further six serious citations with proposed penalties of $26,500. Some of the violations include failing to provide proper employee training for a caustic solution spill, failure to implement decontamination procedures for a caustic spill and implement an emergency response plan.
The PCA plant in Milwaukee manufactures corrugated and solid fibre boxes. The company has been inspected by OSHA more than 40 times and received in excess of 90 citations in the past 10 years, including an inspection that was the result of an accident in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, where three workers were killed in an explosion, said the body.
The company has 15 days to respond, said the OSHA.
PCA is the second major US packaging company to be cited by the OSHA this month. On April 19, the agency proposed fines totalling over $127,000 against American Packaging Corps over the death of a worker and a string of health and safety violations at its Columbus, Wisconsin, plant. The OSHA launched its investigation last October after a maintenance technician was killed during an explosion at the plant. Flammable vapours were present when the worker was using a grinder to cut off a bolt while installing a metal floor threshold.