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News / Business / Clark County Business

Camas mill employee killed in workplace accident

Camas police said the workplace accident involved heavy machinery

By Chrissy Booker, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 11, 2024, 5:15pm

CAMAS — A 32-year-old man was killed Friday in a workplace accident at the Georgia-Pacific Camas Mill, according to the Camas Police Department.

Camas police and the Camas-Washougal Fire Department responded to the mill at 5:04 p.m. An employee was found dead inside the mill. Police said the death was the result of a workplace accident that involved heavy machinery.

The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office will release the man’s name and cause and manner of death.

“Safety is a value at Georgia-Pacific. This is devastating for his family and friends and for our Camas team,” Georgia-Pacific Public Affairs Officer Kristi Ward said. “We are working to support them, and we are working through the investigation with the appropriate authorities, including corporate safety resources and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).”

An employee of the Georgia Pacific Camas Mill was killed in a workplace accident on Friday, according to Camas police. Map

According to Ward, the death happened within the unitizing and converting department, which is shut down until further notice. The department is near the end of the process for packaging finished products. Georgia-Pacific manufactures and distributes tissue, pulp, paper packaging and building products.

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries has opened its own investigation.

“We have about six months to complete an investigation once we’ve opened it,” said Matt Ross, L&I public affairs officer. “Until that has wrapped up, we can’t give out any details.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in December there were 5,486 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2022, a 5.7 percent increase from 5,190 in 2021. A worker died every 96 minutes from a work-related injury in 2022.

According to Columbian archives, in 2002, 39-year-old Terry Rykhus of Washougal died at the mill when he was pulled into a paper machine and crushed. The Department of Labor & Industries found his death could have been prevented if the safety rules for his job had been enforced and followed. Georgia-Pacific was fined $6,500. Before that, the last fatality at the mill was in 1986 when a man died in a forklift accident.

Georgia-Pacific has owned the Camas plant since November 2000, Columbian archives show. It has headquarters in Atlanta, and 30 additional offices across the United States.