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Two Ohio companies fined for safety violations

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Republic Engineered Products Inc. and Ameriwood Industries for serious serious safety violations, according a recent press release.

Republic, a steel manufacturing company, received two willful and four serious citations for exposing its workers to fall hazards and failing to maintain equipment and walkways at its Canton facility. Ameriwood Industries, a wood furniture manufacturer in Tiffin, was cited for two alleged serious and two alleged repeat safety violations for failing to train employees in safe work practices and require them to wear proper safety equipment when working on electrical panels. OSHA says Republic faces penalties totaling $156,000, while Ameriwood’s penalties amount to $60,000.

"Republic Engineered Products Inc. has repeatedly demonstrated a willful disregard for employees' safety by continually failing to provide fall protection and maintain equipment in its steel plants," said OSHA Area Director Rob Medlock in Cleveland, Ohio. "Failing to correct these issues is not acceptable. OSHA is committed to seeing that the workers at this facility are provided a safe and healthy workplace."

As a result of the June inspection by OSHA, the company was issued two willful citations with proposed fines of $140,000 for exposing workers to fall hazards and failing to complete periodic inspections of overhead cranes within the past 12 months. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Republic Engineered Products Inc. also received four serious citations with proposed penalties of $16,000. Alleged violations include operating cranes with severe cracks in the brake assemblies, failing to provide proper illumination on ladderways and stairways, failure to keep floor areas and walkways clear of debris, and failing to maintain equipment. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company's Canton location, which employs about 670 people, has been inspected six times and received 31 safety violations since 2005. Republic Engineered Products Inc., which is headquartered in Canton, employs more than 1,000 workers company-wide and operates additional manufacturing facilities in Lorain and Massillon, Ohio, as well as Blasdell, N.Y., Gary, Ind., and Hamilton, Ontario in Canada. The Lorain operation was cited in November for 13 OSHA violations and fined $143,000.

OSHA began its inspection of Ameriwood Industries in June, resulting in the issuance of two repeat violations for failing to train workers in proper safety procedures, and to ensure workers wore fire resistant clothing and voltage-rated protective gloves when working on 480-volt electrical panels. Those citations carry penalties of $50,000. OSHA issues a repeat violation when an employer previously was cited for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

Ameriwood also received two serious citations for failing to implement safety-related work practices and require employees to wear personal face protection gear when working on electrical panels, resulting in an additional $10,000 in fines. A serious citation is issued when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company was cited by OSHA in 2009 with 12 violations for exposing workers to hazardous dust, a lack of training, failing to ensure employees wore personal protective equipment, and failing to implement and train employees in lockout/tagout procedures of energy sources. The 2009 case was settled informally and the company paid $70,725 in penalties.

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