A paper mill in Longview is appealing a state ruling accusing WestRock Services LLC of failing to protect workers from COVID-19.
As pandemic looms in Washington, ‘your level of concern is up to you’ for holiday travel
An inspection by the Department of Labor & Industries revealed that during March and April 2021, 15 employees who worked at the same machine at WestRock tested positive for COVID-19. Of the 15, one worker died and two others were hospitalized from complications of the virus. Neither the death nor the hospitalizations were reported to L&I as required.
Now, the papermaking plant in Cowlitz County is facing nearly $140,000 in fines.
The L&I inspection also revealed that WestRock put production needs ahead of worker health and safety. In one instance, as L&I reports, a machine operator recovering from COVID told the onsite nurse he was having difficulty walking, was in pain, and was having shortness of breath. Another worker at the same machine had already been sent home that day after testing positive for COVID that morning.
Instead of sending the second employee home, L&I says WestRock had him remain on the job with supplemental oxygen.
“Employers should never put production before people,” said Joel Sacks, L&I director, in a written release. “COVID is a serious workplace hazard and when employers don’t follow common sense safety and health practices the results can be tragic.”
Mercer Island MD explains why we’ll likely need yearly COVID booster shots
L&I has fined WestRock $139,832 for not following COVID protocols and failing to report a

Original Article