CHICAGO Republic Steel is facing a $1,138,500 penalty after a February inspection discovered 24 alleged safety violations at the companys Canton, Ohio, facility.
The U.S. Department of Labors Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspection stemmed from a formal complaint filed by the United Steelworkers union following injuries at the plant in June and August 2012.
"Republic Steel is committed to providing a safe and healthy work place for our employees and takes these allegations seriously," Chad McClimans, Republic Steels director of environment, health and safety, said Aug. 13. "We are currently reviewing the alleged citation items to determine an appropriate course of action."
OSHA noted that two workers had been seriously injured in falls at the Canton melt shop last summer, and claimed that Republic had a history of failing to address fall hazards.
OSHA issued Republic Steel with willful citations in 2011 after an employee was seriously injured in a fall at the companys Lorain, Ohio, plant. The agency and company settled those violations, with Republic Steel pledging to address fall protection at its plants, including the Canton facility.
"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," OSHA assistant secretary of labor David Michaels said in a statement.
OSHA cited Republic Steel for 15 alleged violations at the Canton plant, including lack of fall protection while working on walkway girders 66 feet above the ground and potential fall hazards of 30 feet due to missing and damaged guardrails. Workers also 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, OSHA said in its complaint.
Republic Steel also was cited for allegedly failing to post danger signs indicating the existence and location of permit-required confined spaces in the melt shop. Republic Steel was cited for the same alleged violation in 2009 at its Lackawanna, N.Y., rolling mill.
OSHA said that Republic Steel will remain in its severe violator enforcement program, mandating follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. Under this program, OSHA may inspect any of Republic Steels facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.
Republic Steel can accept or contest the latest citations and proposed penalties, or negotiate a settlement.