OSHA, Republic Steel in $2.4 Million Settlement

"The terms of this agreement to improve conditions and training are unprecedented," said Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "The company has committed to supporting extensive worker participation, an important role for the joint health and safety committee, and implementation of a comprehensive safety and health program to better protect Republic Steel employees."

OSHA announced April 28 that Republic Steel has agreed to settle alleged health and safety violations at its facilities in Lorain, Canton, and Massillon, Ohio, and in Blasdell, N.Y., and has agreed to pay $2.4 million. In the settlement, the company agrees to abate all cited hazards and implement safeguards to prevent future injuries; it addresses more than 100 safety and health violations found by OSHA during inspections conducted in the fall 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," OSHA's announcement stated.

Republic Steel also agrees in the settlement to pay additional penalties "in the event there is a determination of substantial non-compliance with the agreement."

The alleged violations concerned fall protection, lockout/tagout procedures, and failing to provide machine guarding to protect workers from machinery.

OSHA began the inspections last fall after an employee fell through the roof of a building at the Lorain plant. The inspections were expanded to include all Republic Steel facilities under OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. "By agreeing to the terms of this settlement, Republic Steel has demonstrated a commitment to change its culture, invest in its employees, and work with OSHA and the United Steelworkers to make significant changes at its facilities that will improve the safety and health of its workers," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "The Labor Department looks forward to working with Republic Steel to ensure that it lives up to its commitment to improve workplace safety."

Changes the company has agreed to make in managing its safety and health program include:

  • reviewing and improving plant procedures to ensure OSHA compliance with machine guarding, lockout/tagout, fall protection, and PPE
  • implementing an electronic tracking system for identifying hazards/near misses, injuries, and illnesses reported by workers
  • mailing a letter to workers' families detailing the company's commitment to health and safety
  • providing a card to employees informing them of the right to refuse to perform work that they reasonably and in good faith believe is unsafe or unhealthful without fear of being disciplined
  • providing supplemental training for all production and maintenance employees, including managers.

"The terms of this agreement to improve conditions and training are unprecedented," said Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "The company has committed to supporting extensive worker participation, an important role for the joint health and safety committee, and implementation of a comprehensive safety and health program to better protect Republic Steel employees."

A copy of the settlement agreement is available at http://www.osha.gov/CWSA/RepublicSteel05012014.pdf.

"This is a terrific agreement, and it clearly shows the value of strong OSHA enforcement," said David McCall, director of the United Steelworkers District 1 in Ohio and chair of the union's Republic Steel bargaining committee. "We commend both OSHA and Republic for their willingness to work toward a settlement that puts the safety and health of Republic employees first. This new program gives us the tools to correct problems and creates a model system for preventing injuries and illnesses. It will lead to a safer company and to a stronger one."

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