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Puzzling accident injures 1, kills 1 at North Carolina paper mill

Not long ago, three workers contracted by a North Carolina paper plant were involved in an incident that claimed the life of one and left another with work-related injuries. Initial reports indicate that the three men were cleaning out a large tank as part of scheduled maintenance when an unexplained set of events took place.

Initially, officials remained quiet about what exactly took place at the paper mill. However, the preliminary autopsy of the 39-year-old man killed in the workplace accident indicated that further toxicology testing is necessary. Another worker sustained skin "irritation," which seems to suggest that some sort of chemical leak precipitated these injures.

The only other information provided is that all of the workers had proper training and were wearing appropriate safety equipment. Officials from the paper plant say that this incident isn't indicative of any safety failures or violations. In 2012, however, the company received four serious violations after an OSHA inspection, but quickly complied with safety codes.

Unfortunately, those impacted by this incident will be without definitive answers for up to two months, as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration completes a thorough investigation. That period will undoubtedly be frustrating for the loved ones who simply want to know why their lives have been turned upside down.

Even if it's determined that there were no safety violations involved in this particular incident, the injured employee and the family of the deceased worker may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Yet the "contractor" status of their employment could affect the benefit-administration process. As workplace safety officials wrap-up their investigation, it may be valuable for those impacted by these injuries to determine what steps can be taken next.

Source: Herald Enquirer, "NC worker dies in accident at York Co. paper plant," Jonathan McFadden, Jan. 22, 2013

  • Many North Carolina employers are required by law to carry workers' compensation insurance in order to provide assistance to employees in the event of an accident. To learn more, please see our Greensboro workplace injury page.

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