Last updated: August 06. 2014 1:33AM - 1805 Views
By Anthony Gonzalez agonzalez@civitasmedia.com

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GREENVILLE — A Weyerhaeuser mill remains closed more than 24 hours after an employee was killed.

According to Weyerheauser, an employee sustained life-threatening injuries Monday morning at the Greenville lumber mill located near Ayden.

The 54-year-old worker died.

A Weyerhaeuser spokesperson said initial reports indicate that the employee was injured in a fork lift accident.

“The mill remains closed today and expects to also be closed this evening,” said spokesperson Nancy Thompson for Weyerhaeuser on Tuesday.

“We have our own team investigating in addition to OSHA and we are assisting and providing them everything they need. So, it is really a joint reason that it remains closed because of the simultaneous investigations going on.”

The mill employs 184. The fatal accident happened at the facility at 371 E. Hanrahan Road, between Grifton and Ayden. Counseling services have been offered by Weyerhaeuser to its employees of the mill.

Officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Division (OSH), a division of the North Carolina Department of Labor, confirmed an ongoing investigating. OSH said the plant closure is a decision by the company, not OSH.

“The way it works is that the employer has eight hours to notify us of a death… OSH goes to the site and determines what happened through an investigation. A lot of times after a fatality death the work stops. To determine if any safety and health standards were violated, we conduct interviews, take photographs. The process generally takes three-to-four months to complete,” said OSH spokesperson Dolores Quesbenberry.

“If violations are found, citations will be issued,” said Quesbenberry.

According to Quesbenberry, an incident at one Weyerheauser plant would not trigger an automatic inspection at another company-owned plant, such as in Elkin. “The investigation is limited to the events surrounding the accident,” she said. “The rest would be up to the company itself on safety at another location.”

Since the death was related to the use of a forklift, the investigation will seek to determine if aisles were designated as travel paths, vehicles were operated at a safe speed, if authorized personal had operated the forklift, in addition to other forklift-related requirements.

As of press time, it was unknown if the deceased was an operator of the forklift, or was injured by a forklift driver.

The Pitts County Sheriff’s Office has not released the name of the victim.

Anthony Gonzalez may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @newsgonz.

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