Anthony F. Fuhr, 35, fell into the pit through an opening that was not protected by a safety guardrail.
Envirosource Management Corp., which was handling safety issues at the CitiSteel USA plant at the time of the 2003 incident, knew it was violating safety regulations by not having the guardrail, said Robert J. Mongeluzzi, the Philadelphia attorney hired by Fuhr's family.
"The sad part of this tragedy was that it was a totally preventable accident," Mongeluzzi said. "For a few hundred dollars for a guardrail, Anthony Fuhr would be alive today."
After Fuhr's death, Mongeluzzi said, Envirosource Management ordered a guardrail to be placed along the catwalk that Fuhr fell from. The firm also ordered that guardrails be placed at other sites where its parent company, International Mill Services of Horsham, Pa., has operations, Mongeluzzi said.
Mongeluzzi said a guardrail was not in place originally because the company decided it would interfere with its machines. International Mill Services, which contracts at CitiSteel, would not comment, according to delawareonline.com.
Fuhr had been working on scaffolding Feb. 14, 2003, when he fell into a 10x30-foot container holding about two feet of boiling water. After falling into the water, which is used to cool molten steel, Fuhr was able to climb out and yell for help. He suffered second- and third-degree burns to 95 percent of his body and died 13 days later.