OSHARepublic Steel is facing $1,138,500 in fines for for 24 safety violations at its Canton manufacturing plant – fifteen them willful violations of OSHA’s fall protection standards.

Workers injured in falls

OSHA inspected the workplace after receiving a formal complaint from the United Steelworkers Union alleging inadequate fall protection and other unsafe practices exposing workers to various hazards in the plant's melt shop. During the inspection, OSHA discovered that two workers had been seriously injured in falls at the site in June and August of 2012.

The company has a history of failing to address fall hazards. In 2011, after an employee was seriously injured in a fall at the company's Lorain, Ohio, facility, OSHA issued willful citations to the company for fall hazards. In a settlement with OSHA in 2012, the company accepted three willful fall hazard violations at the Lorain plant and agreed to address fall protection at its plants, including the Canton plant.

"Republic Steel has a long history of OSHA violations and disregard for employee safety and health," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "It is unacceptable that Republic Steel has not taken more effective steps to improve safety at the Canton plant, particularly in light of a 2012 settlement aimed at exactly that.”

30 feet above slag pits

The violations included a lack of fall protection while working on the runway girders that were 66 feet above the ground and falls of 30 feet due to missing and damaged guardrails. Workers were also exposed to falls of up to 30 feet above the slag pit and falls of 20 feet above the electric arc furnace and molten steel ladle.

One repeat violation was cited for failing to post danger signs or other effective means of indicating the existence and location of permit-required confined spaces in the melt shop. The same violation was cited in August 2009 at the company's facility in Blasdell, N.Y.

Lack of PPE around the furnace

Additionally, eight serious violations include tripping hazards, the use of electrical panels not suitable for wet locations, lack of personal protective equipment for employees working around the furnace, failing to evaluate potential hazards in confined spaces that employees might need to enter such as furnaces and duct work, and failure to train workers on hazards and issue entry permits for those spaces.

SVEP membership continues

Republic Steel will remain in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The company was placed in the program in 2011.

The company, which is headquartered in Canton, employs approximately 2,500 workers companywide and 600 at the Canton mill. Other Republic Steel mills are located in Massillon and Lorain, Ohio, and Blasdell, N.Y.

The Canton plant has been inspected by OSHA 16 times, which resulted in one willful, two repeat, 22 serious and 23 other-than-serious final order citations. As a corporate entity, Republic Steel has been inspected 79 times resulting in the issuance of six willful, 15 repeat, 145 serious and 70 other-than-serious final order citations.