OSHA says U.S. Steel Corp. took safety shortcuts at its Fairfield, AL, facility and that led to two deaths.
The fiery explosion in September 2014 killed Leo Bridges and Edward Bryant. A third worker was severely burned but survived.
The three men were opening and closing a malfunctioning valve on a furnace at the Fairfield Works when it erupted. OSHA says U.S. Steel management knew the production line would need to be shut down for hours to fix the valve, and management told the men to do the work while the furnace was operating.
“This employer chose productivity over the safety of its workers, and two people died as a result of this decision,” said Ramona Morris, OSHA’s area director in Birmingham, AL.
U.S. Steel also faces seven serious citations, including:
- not training workers to recognize hazardous conditions with the oxygen system
- missing exit signs, and
- an improperly installed exit gate.
Proposed penalties total $107,900.
OSHA also proposes placing U.S. Steel Corp. in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program which requires follow-up inspections.
U.S. Steel has been inspected 14 times by OSHA since 2009 and received citations for amputation hazards, unsafe crane operation and violations associated with flammable liquids.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request a conference with OSHA or contest the citations to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.