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May 01, 2014
Steel manufacturer agrees to $2.4 million 'unprecedented' OSHA settlement, comprehensive safety improvements

OSHA announced on April 28 that Republic Steel has agreed to settle alleged health and safety violations at four of its sites through a combination of fines and comprehensive safety improvements. Keep reading to learn about the new steps the company will take to protect its workers.

The comprehensive settlement addresses alleged violations at Republic Steel locations in Lorain, Canton, and Massillon, Ohio, as well as in Blasdell, New York. The steelmaker says it will abate all cited hazards and will implement safeguards to prevent future injuries. OSHA identified more than 100 safety and health violations during fall 2013 inspections. The settlement also resolves contested citations from two previous inspections.

OSHA chief calls settlement “unprecedented”

In addition to abating the hazards, Republic Steel will pay $2.4 million in fines and will pay more if abatements called for in the settlement are not carried out satisfactorily. The company has also agreed to steps that other employers might wish to consider:

  • Review and improve procedures for machine guarding, lockout/tagout, fall protection, PPE, and other critical safety procedures.
  • Implement an electronic tracking system for identifying hazards/near misses, injuries, and illnesses.
  • Mail a letter to workers’ families detailing its commitment to safety and health.
  • Provide a card to employees that describes their right to refuse to perform work they believe is unsafe without fear of discipline.
  • Provide supplemental training for all production and maintenance employees.

Stated OSHA Administrator David Michaels, “The terms of this agreement to improve conditions are unprecedented. 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.”

The United Steelworkers (USW) welcomed news of the settlement. The union was especially pleased with a requirement that Republic Steel establish a comprehensive injury and illness prevention program that goes beyond compliance with OSHA standards. The program will include strong participation by the USW, including on a committee made up of union and company leaders and safety experts.

David McCall, USW district director and bargaining committee chairman commented, “We commend both OSHA and Republic for their willingness to work toward a settlement that puts the safety and health of Republic employees first.” McCall described the program agreed to by the employer as “a model system for preventing injuries and illnesses.”

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