Republic Steel Agrees to Pay $235,000 Penalty, Hire Safety Managers

Additional abatement measures Republic Steel agreed to take at the Lorain mill include providing a two-hour lockout/tagout training program to all affected employees, conducting a fall hazard audit, and developing a fall protection abatement plan.

The U.S. Department of Labor has reached a settlement agreement with Canton, Ohio-based Republic Steel Inc. resolving citations issued by the department's OSHA in May 2011 for violations found at the company's facility in Lorain, Ohio. Republic Steel, formally known as Republic Engineered Products Inc., will pay $235,000 in fines, hire full-time health and safety managers, and improve safety training for workers at its steel mills in OSHA's jurisdiction. In addition to the Lorain mill, three other facilities are located in Canton and Massillon, Ohio, and Blasdell, N.Y.

"Republic Steel has agreed to make an investment in the health and safety of its workers by increasing training and accountability at its mills. Companies that put the health and safety of workers first should be recognized for their investments in human capital, our nation's most precious resource," said Greg Baxter, OSHA's acting regional administrator in Chicago. "OSHA has been committed to the health and safety of workers for 41 years."

The safety and health managers to be hired at each mill will have the authority to suspend work until a safety or health issue has been abated without having to refer the matter to the mill's manager or other supervisors. Each safety and health manager will make a bimonthly, random safety inspection of the mill, as well as a quarterly inspection at another one of the company's mills. A Joint Safety Committee also will be established to audit inspections and develop best safety practices and will meet on a monthly basis. Additionally, the company will post in-plant safety bulletins, create a quarterly newsletter, implement a system for employees to notify management anonymously of health and safety concerns, and allow union safety coordinators with the United Steel Workers to have increased access to the company's hourly workforce.

Increased and improved training for workers will include training by a third-party consultant on fall protection and lockout/tagout procedures, training designed for contractors, and a 10-hour health and safety training program specific to Republic Steel's operations that will be developed within 12 months of the settlement. Additionally, the company will pay attendance fees for safety coordinators and joint safety committee members to participate in the United Steel Workers training conference.

Specific, additional abatement measures Republic Steel agreed to take at the Lorain mill include providing a two-hour lockout/tagout training program to all affected employees, conducting a fall hazard audit, and developing a fall protection abatement plan. OSHA began its inspection of the facility in November 2010 upon learning that a worker had been hospitalized with a broken pelvis after falling 9 feet from a coil transfer car in the bar mill. OSHA cited seven willful and three repeat safety violations for the company's failure to protect workers from fall hazards and implement adequate energy source lockout/tagout procedures for hazardous equipment. The settlement affirms citations for three willful violations of fall protection standards and three repeat violations of lockout/tagout standards.

The Lorain mill, which employs approximately 250 people, has been inspected 25 times since 1990 and cited for a total of 86 violations. The company's other sites together have been inspected 53 times since 1990, resulting in citations for a total of 124 violations. Republic Steel employs more than 2,200 workers companywide and recently announced plans to hire up to 500 additional workers at the Lorain facility.

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