LINCOLN — A 27-year-old Lincoln man was killed early Tuesday morning when he became caught in a paper-drying machine at Lincoln Pulp and Paper Co.
Mark A. Mulligan was pronounced dead at the scene of the 2 a.m. accident and federal workplace-safety investigators were on the scene later Tuesday morning.
Mulligan, who worked at the mill for 4 1/2 years, was working on a section of the paper machine in which paper is fed through steel cylinders to dry. The cylinders are rotated by gears.
Mill officials said Tuesday afternoon that the large sheet of paper that passes through the machine had become torn and caught on one of the drying cylinders. The dryers were shut down so the paper could be removed and rethreaded through the machine, according to Doug Walsh, vice president of Eastern Pulp and Paper Corp., the parent company of Lincoln Pulp and Paper.
Walsh said the cylinders had been shut down and were in the process of coming to a stop when Mulligan somehow got caught and pulled into the machinery.
“Having the paper break and having to rethread it is a routine activity. It happens several times a day,” Walsh said.
No one witnessed Mulligan get dragged into the machinery, Walsh said, so it was not known exactly how the accident happened.
Mulligan’s coworkers discovered him within a few seconds of the accident, he said.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was notified immediately and investigators were on the scene Tuesday. The company’s management-labor team also was conducting an internal investigation.
Mulligan’s father and two brothers also worked at the mill, Walsh said.
“We are deeply disturbed by this tragedy,” Walsh said.
He said it was standard company policy that employees stay away from the drying cylinders while they are in motion.
The last fatal accident at the mill was in the 1950s, according to Walsh.
Lincoln Pulp and Paper makes pulp, fine paper and specialty tissue products.