Less than a year and a half after reaching a
settlement with OSHA for safety violations at its Lorain, Ohio, steel
mill, Republic Steel is in the agency's crosshairs again.
OSHA earlier this week said it has cited
the steelmaker for 24 safety violations at the company's Canton, Ohio,
mill. The citations – which include 15 willful violations – carry $1.1
million in fines.
"It is unacceptable that Republic Steel has not taken more
effective steps to improve safety at the Canton plant, particularly in
light of a 2012 settlement aimed at exactly that," said David Michaels,
assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.
'Seriousness of Inaction'
OSHA said it received a formal complaint
from the United Steelworkers alleging inadequate fall protection and
other unsafe practices in the plant's melt shop.
When the agency opened an inspection in
February, OSHA discovered that two workers had been seriously injured in
falls at the Canton steel mill in June and August 2012.
OSHA cited the company for 15 willful
violations, for allegedly failing to provide fall protection in the
"We have tried to work jointly with Republic to avoid these
violations," said Dave McCall, director of the United Steelworkers' Ohio
district. "However, it is obvious that some in management do not
understand the seriousness of inaction."
Among the violations alleged by OSHA were
a lack of fall protection on runway girders that were 66 feet above the
ground, and missing and damaged guardrails at heights of 30 feet.
Workers were exposed to falls of up to 30
feet above the slag pit and falls of 20 feet above the electric-arc
furnace and molten-steel ladle, according to OSHA.
The agency also cited the Canton steel
plant for two repeat violations and eight serious violations.
The eight alleged serious violations
included tripping hazards; the use of electrical panels not suitable for
wet locations; lack of PPE for employees working around the furnace;
and failure to train workers on hazards and issue-entry permits for
Chad McClimans, director of EHS at Republic Steel, said the
company "takes these allegations seriously."
"We are currently reviewing the alleged
citation items to determine an appropriate course of action,” McClimans
said in an email. He also said the steelmaker "is committed to providing
a safe and healthy workplace for our employees."
In 2011, after a Republic Steel employee
was seriously injured in a fall at the company's Lorain facility, OSHA
cited the company for seven willful violations and three repeat
An April 2012 settlement affirmed three willful violations of
fall-protection standards and three repeat violations of lockout/tagout
As part of the settlement, Canton-based Republic Steel agreed to
pay $235,000 in fines and pledged to hire full-time EHS managers and
improve safety training.
The steelmaker has been in OSHA's severe-violator
enforcement program since 2011, according to OSHA.
Under the program, which "focuses on
recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful,
repeat or failure-to-abate violations," OSHA can inspect any of Republic
Steel's facilities "if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are
OSHA has conducted 79 inspections at various Republic
Steel facilities, resulting in six willful, 15 repeat, 145 serious and
70 other-than-serious final citations, according to the agency.
"Republic Steel has a long history of
OSHA violations and disregard for employee safety and health," Michaels