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WestRock fined for COVID-19 infections at Washington paper mill

One worker died and more than a dozen were infected in March and April of this year at the mill in Longview, Washington.

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November 29, 2021

Atlanta-based WestRock is facing nearly $140,000 in fines after one of its paper mill workers died and more than a dozen machine operators got sick with COVID-19 in March and April of this year. The infections occurred at the company’s paper mill in Longview, Washington, which it had acquired from KapStone Paper and Packaging Corp. in 2018.

According to a news release from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, 15 workers who worked at the same machine at the company’s paper mill in Longview, Washington, tested positive for COVID-19. Of the 15 workers, one died, and two others were hospitalized from complications due to the virus. The state’s Department of Labor & Industries says it was not notified of the death or the hospitalizations, which is a requirement for workplaces in that state.

According to the department, a formal complaint was filed with the Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission under the Washington State Department of Health due to concerns about the company’s actions related to the March and April infections. In total, the department fined WestRock $139,832 for not following COVID-19 protocols earlier this year and for failing to report a death and hospitalizations to the state.

WestRock has appealed the citation, and money from fines is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping injured workers and families of those who have died on the job.