A formal complaint from the United Steelworkers Union sent OSHA to Republic Steel’s Canton, Ohio, plant. Result: $1,138,500 in fines for 24 violations.
The union alleged inadequate fall protection and other unsafe practices exposing workers to various hazards in the plant’s melt shop.
During the inspection, OSHA discovered two workers had been seriously injured in falls at the site in June and August of 2012.
A total of 15 willful citations were for violations of OSHA’s fall protection standard, including:
- lack of fall protection while working on runway girders that were 66 feet above the ground
- exposure to falls of 30 feet due to missing and damaged guardrails
- exposure to falls of up to 30 feet above the slag pit, and
- exposure to falls of 20 feet above the electric arc furnace and molten steel ladle.
One repeat violation was cited for failing to post danger signs or other effective means of indicating the existence and location of permit-required confined space in the melt shop. The same violation was cited in August 2009 at Republic’s facility in Blasdel, NY.
OSHA also issued eight serious citations for violations including:
- tripping hazards
- use of electrical panels not suitable for wet locations
- lack of personal protective equipment for employees working around the furnace
- failure to evaluate potential hazards in confined spaces that employees might need to enter such as furnaces and duct work, and
- failure to train workers on the hazards of confined spaces and issue entry permits for those spaces.
Republic will remain in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program which mandates targeted follow-up inspections. The company was placed in the program in 2011. Republic has a history of failing to address fall hazards. In 2011, after an employee was seriously injured in a fall at the company’s Lorain, Ohio, facility, OSHA issued willful citations to the company for fall hazards. In a settlement with OSHA in 2012, Republic agreed to address fall protection at its plants, including the one in Canton.
Republic has 15 business days from the receipt of the citations to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.