Fairfield, Ala., Facility Steels Itself for OSHA Citations, Fines

Following three separate inspections, OSHA cited the United States Steel Corp., Fairfield (Ala.) Works, for safety and health violations, issuing one repeat and17 serious citations with proposed penalties totaling $87,500.

OSHA began an investigation Aug. 13 after being notified of an Aug. 3 accident at the plant that resulted in the amputation of a worker's feet. According to OSHA investigators, the employee was standing on a coiled metal strip helping to lower the top of a dryer tank when an operator activated a mechanism that pulled the strip and the worker's feet into machine rollers. The company received seven serious citations, including failing to use proper lockout/tagout procedures that would have rendered the machinery inoperable before maintenance work began. Proposed penalties for these citations are $33,500.

"Following the OSHA requirement to make the machine inoperable could have prevented this accident," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's Birmingham area director. "The OSHA lockout/tagout standard was developed to protect workers from this type of accident."

After completion of the accident investigation, OSHA was informed of additional unsafe working conditions at the plant. The agency conducted additional investigations on Sept. 17 and Oct. 22 that resulted in one alleged repeat and 10 alleged serious citations with proposed penalties totaling $54,000.

The company was cited for repeated failure to protect workers from safety hazards associated with the use of electrical power. The serious safety hazards included lack of machine guarding; exposing employees to falls from stairs, elevated working surfaces and slips on floors; improper labeling of hazardous chemicals; lack of confined space entry procedures and improper handling and storage of compressed gas cylinders.

The Pittsburgh, Pa.-based company has 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, seek an informal hearing with the area OSHA director or pay the fines.

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