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OSHA Cites Steel Plant for 26th Time

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

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Steel manufacturer Republic Engineered Products Inc. is facing $563,000 in federal fines for alleged repeat and willful safety violations at its plant in Lorain, OH.

This is the 26th time since 1990 that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the facility, which employs about 250 people. OSHA issued a total of 76 citations in the earlier cases.

The earlier cases at the plant include 13 violations and a $143,000 fine issued in May 2010.

 Republic Engineered Products plant

Republic Engineered Products

OSHA has cited the plant 26 times since 1990.

Three weeks after those citations, OSHA issued four serious and two willful violations to Republic’s plant in Canton, OH, and fined that facility $156,000.

Those cases remain open, as does another one from November 2008 involving the Lorain facility.

The current citations stem from a November 2010 inspection that was triggered when a Lorain plant worker fell nine feet and was hospitalized with a broken pelvis.

Company Response

“We have been expecting this citation and have been working with OSHA on the underlying circumstances that led to this event,” Ken Braun, Republic’s Director of Benefits, Health & Administration, said in a statement.

“We expect to continue our cooperative dialogue with OSHA going forward.  We also continue to work on identifying and eliminating workplace hazards in order to protect the health and welfare of our employees.” 

‘No Excuse’

In the current case, OSHA issued seven willful violations—its most serious level of infraction—and three repeat violations. The agency also placed the company in OSHA’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program, which focuses enforcement resources on employers that have “demonstrated indifference” to safety and health regulations.

“There is no excuse for Republic Engineered Products to continue to neglect its workers’ safety,” said Dr. David Michaels, OSHA Administrator.

“This company has a long history of OSHA violations, including employee injuries and fatalities in several of its plants.  It needs to make a serious effort to comply with common-sense regulations to protect its employees.” 

Willful Violations

The willful violations, with proposed penalties of $480,500, include allegedly exposing employees to falls and failing to affix lockout/tagout devices to control the unexpected energizing of equipment.

A willful violation is one committed “with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard” of the law, or with “plain indifference” to worker safety and health.

Repeat Violations

The repeat violations, with proposed fines totaling $82,500, allege failure to:

• Train employees in lockout/tagout procedures;

• Specify the steps necessary to lock out electrical, hydraulic and gravitational energy sources for the coil transfer car, from which the employee fell in November; and

• Isolate all hazardous energy sources.

A repeat violation is issued when an employer has been cited for the same or a similar violation within five years. Republic was cited in 2008 at both the Lorain facility and its Blasdell, NY, facility for failing to develop and adequately train workers on lockout/tagout procedures. Failure to operate energy isolation devices properly also was cited in Blasdell in 2008.

Other Locations, Violations

Republic is North America's leading supplier of Special Bar Quality (SBQ) steel, a highly engineered product used in axles, drive shafts, suspension rods and other critical components of automobiles, off-highway vehicles and industrial equipment. The Lorain steelmaking plant includes rolling and finishing facilities.

The century-old company is based in Canton, OH, with additional locations in Massillon, OH; Lackawanna, NY; Gary, IN; and Hamilton, Ontario. The company employs more than 2,300 people.

Republic is a subsidiary of Grupo Simec, Guadalajara, Mexico.

Excluding the Lorain location, the company’s combined sites have been inspected 53 times since 1990, resulting in a total of 124 violations.

The company has 15 business days to contest the citations or request an informal conference with OSHA.

   

Tagged categories: Citations; Health and safety; OSHA; Violations

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