OSHA has issued 10 violations (6 repeat and 4 serious) to United States Steel Corp. for exposing 7 workers at its coke production facility in Pittsburgh to asbestos. Fines total $170,000.
Breathing airborne asbestos fibers can cause lung damage that often progresses to serious health conditions, including lung cancer, that can lead to death.
OSHA says there were two exposure incidents.
During the first week of February 2016, five workers removed and replaced packing material containing asbestos at the direction of the company.
In March 2016, two other employees had burned and removed a rotted section of expansion pipe, according to OSHA. The pipe later tested positive for asbestos.
OSHA found U.S. Steel failed to:
- establish a regulated area and inform employees of the presence of asbestos-containing material
- conduct initial employee monitoring and ensure a negative exposure assessment, and
- implement specific engineering controls and designate a qualified person to oversee the work.
Those violations were categorized as repeat. This is the second time since 2011 that OSHA has cited U.S. Steel for exposing employees to asbestos hazards.
OSHA also found U.S. Steel:
- used compressed air improperly in maintenance and repair operations
- didn’t provide employee training, and
- didn’t use appropriate containment and disposal methods.
U.S. Steel issued a statement regarding the fines: “The citations are as a result of an inspection that took place earlier this year. We fully cooperated with the OSHA investigation and are in the process of reviewing the citations.”
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the violations to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
This is the second time this summer U.S. Steel has made news regarding employee safety.
Earlier, the company agreed to modify its employee injury-reporting rule. OSHA said the company’s old rule discouraged employees from reporting injuries.