OSHA investigator wraps up work at Lincoln Co. plant - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

OSHA investigator wraps up work at Lincoln Co. plant


An OSHA investigator looking into a deadly industrial incident at a Lincoln County plant has gathered his preliminary information and left the scene, federal and company officials say.

The investigator had been looking into an incident that happened Tuesday just before 8:30 a.m. at Packaging Corporation of America. Lincoln County Sheriff's officers say Dennis Gougeon, 47, and Dustin Hale, 29, were burned with fly ash. Fly ash is a product produced during the burning of coal.

Both men were flown to the burn center at UW Madison where Gougeon later died. The Lincoln County coroner says Gougeon's burns caused him to asphyxiate, leading to his death.

Hale was later transported to a hospital in the Twin Cities area, according to PCA officials. His condition is unknown.

Ron Zimmerman, human resources manager at PCA, said the two men were cleaning an ash system at the time of the incident.

According to Zimmerman, the two men were contractors from a company called Inland Systems. The company specializes in industrial cleaning. Zimmerman said PCA uses Inland Systems "all the time" for its services.

Hale is the son of the owner of Inland Systems, Zimmerman said.

OSHA sent an investigator to gather preliminary information and determine if there were any health or safety violations at the plant that contributed to the incident. Rhonda Burke, an OSHA spokeswoman, said that investigator wrapped up his work at the plant Thursday, but that he could return if additional follow-up is needed.

Burke would not provide any specific details about the investigation.

As far as business at PCA, Zimmerman said Wednesday things were as "normal as they can be." But he said the incident is "on people's minds and they're very concerned."

PCA makes packaging. This is not the first time there has been an incident at that location. In July 2008, a recycled fiber storage tank exploded, killing three employees and injuring a fourth.

According to OSHA records, the company was cited with six safety violations and had to pay a fine of more than $22,000.

OSHA has up to six months to complete its investigation on this incident.

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