Union Questions NSC's Choice for Safety Award

The National Safety Council's selection of AK Steel CEO\r\nRichard Wardrop, to receive the first "Green Cross for Safety"\r\nMedallion, is raising questions and concerns about the integrity and\r\ncredibility of the award.

The National Safety Council''s (NSC) selection of AK Steel CEO Richard Wardrop, to receive the first "Green Cross for Safety" Medallion, is raising questions and concerns about the integrity and credibility of the award.

Member sof the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) are particularly concerned with NSC''s choice of Wardrop for the award. Many plan to stage protest with other union members outside of a fundraising dinner in Manhattan on Sept. 25, where Wardrop will receive the award.

According to AK Steel, headquartered in Middletown, Ohio, Wardrop is being honored for "his long-standing commitment to workplace safety and corporate citizenship."

NSC said Wardrop is receiving the award because AK Steel is one of the nation''s leaders in creating and maintaining a safety culture throughout the company.

Not so, says USWA who claim AK Steel is a major violator of both OSHA and EPA regulations.

The company''s past safety and environmental violation record may give some credence to the union''s concern regarding the award.

A series of fatal incidents in 1995 and 1996 resulted in OSHA fining AK Steel more than $2 million for safety and health violations.

More recently, AK Steel and its contractor, Motorized Assisted Deliveries Inc., were assessed fines totaling $50,000 in July for numerous health and safety violations at the company''s Mansfield, Ohio, plant.

In addition, the Department of Justice recently filed suit against AK Steel and accused the company''s Middletown, Ohio, plant of repeatedly violating federal air and water pollution standards, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

The federal complaint charged that AK Steel caused numerous chemical spills, at least two of which caused fish kills, one resulting in the death of 12,700 fish, from 1993 to the present.

In June, EPA ordered AK Steel to provide safe drinking water to the Pennsylvania borough of Zelienople to reduce dangerous nitrate discharges into the nearby Connoquenessing Creek, which serves as the secondary water source for approximately 4,400 people in that area.

"In light of these recent OSHA citations and AK Steel''s questionable environmental record, the NSC''s selection of Wardrop to receive its first-ever safety award raises serious questions," said Dave McCall, USWA District 1 director. "Companies like AK Steel, which has locked-out 620 families in Mansfield, Ohio, polluted the communities of Butler, Pa., and Middletown, Ohio, and now been cited by OSHA for improperly reporting accidents should not be rewarded in this way -- they should be punished."

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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