Published Date: 05/12/2014
By George Ports
The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently announced that Republic Steel has agreed to settle alleged health and safety violations at Republic’s facilities in Lorain, Canton and Massillon, Ohio, as well as Blasdell, NY. The comprehensive settlement, in which the company agrees to abate all cited hazards and implement numerous safeguards to prevent future injuries, addresses more than 100 safety and health violations found by OSHA at the company’s facilities during inspections conducted in the fall of 2013. The agreement also resolves contested citations from two previous inspections regarding a June 2013 arc flash incident at the Lorain facility and a case alleging numerous fall hazards at the company’s Canton facility that OSHA issued in August of 2013.
According to the terms of the settlement agreement, Republic Steel has agreed to pay $2.4 million, and has further agreed on additional penalty amounts in the event there is a determination of substantial non-compliance with the agreement. The company has agreed to abate all safety and health hazards identified by OSHA, including willful and serious violations for failure to provide required fall protection, failure to implement lockout/tagout procedures to protect workers who service or maintain machines, and failure to provide machine guarding to protect workers from hazardous machinery.
In addition to abating the cited hazards, Republic Steel has agreed to several additional measures to improve compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and better protect its employees. Republic Steel will:
- Hire additional safety and health staff; conduct internal safety and health inspections with representatives of the United Steelworkers;
- Establish and implement a comprehensive safety and health management program to identify and correct hazardous working conditions;
- Hire third-party auditors to ensure that hazards are identified and improvements are made; and
- Meet quarterly with OSHA staff to ensure implementation of this agreement.
OSHA began the inspections last fall in response to a serious injury after an employee fell through the roof of a building at the Lorain plant. OSHA then expanded its inspections to all Republic Steel’s facilities under the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.