Union Questions NSC's Choice for Safety Award

Sept. 20, 2000
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

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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