Steel Mill Probe Expanded Following Worker Fatality

A Colorado-based steel manufacturer was cited yesterday by OSHA\r\nfor more than 100 violations of workplace safety and health\r\nstandards.


A Colorado-based steel manufacturer was cited yesterday by OSHA for more than 100 violations of workplace safety and health standards.

CF&I Steel, doing business as Rocky Mountain Steel Mills in Pueblo, Colo., was cited by OSHA for 85 serious safety and health violations and 22 repeat violations following a comprehensive inspection prompted by a worker fatality last February.

OSHA is proposing that the company pay $487,000 in penalties.

"CF&I Steel is no stranger to OSHA inspection and should be very aware of safety and health regulations for its workers," said OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress. "Just three years ago, OSHA fined the company $1.1 million for some of these same issues; yet management has continued to disregard employee safety. The result is a tragedy that more attention to safety and health could have prevented."

Yesterday''s citations resulted from an investigation begun on Feb. 24, 2000 following the death of a steelworker at the Pueblo plant.

The worker was transporting 140 tons of 20 foot-long steel rods -- at 800-900 degrees Fahrenheit -- through the cab of the vehicle.

OSHA issued a citation for a serious violation with $7,000 in proposed penalties for a manhole cover that did not comply with the standard highway requirement.

The majority of the remaining alleged violations deal with walking-working surfaces, exits, personal protective equipment, materials handling and storage, machinery and machine guarding, and electrical violations.

OSHA has inspected the CF&I facility 43 times since 1972 and issued citations in 31 of those inspection.

In addition to the 1997 inspection mentioned by Jeffress, the company was inspected twice last year, and received a total of $111,500 in penalties for violations.

CF&I Steel, a subsidiary of Oregon Steel Mills Inc., is a steel manufacturing foundry that produces steel rail, rod and bar, along with other associated steel products.

The facility employs approximately 650 workers on a full-time basis.

Rocky Mountain Steel Defends Commitment to Safety

Rocky Mountain Steel Mills, a subsidiary of Oregon Steel Mills, received citations and penalties from OSHA today totaling $487,000.

Three years ago, OSHA fined the company $1.1 million for some of the same issues they were cited for in this instance.

Despite the fact that the Pueblo, Colo. mill is no stranger to OSHA citations, the company affirms that it is cooperating with the agency.

"We anticipated that there would be citations," said Rob Simon, general manger of Rocky Mountain Steel, "because this is an old mill that we are trying to update as expeditiously as we can."

Simon continued, "The company fully cooperated with OSHA from day one. By actively participating in the inspection and working side by side with OSHA, the company was able to address a large number of issues on the spot. As of today, we are proud to say that the overwhelming majority of all items noted by OSHA during the inspection have already been fully abated in the manner recommended."

Rocky Mountain Steel intends to meet with OSHA to discuss the citations and the proposed penalties.

"Safety is our highest priority," said Simon. "We are working hard to make sure everyone follows the safety rules to the letter while we continue our safety improvement program. This inspection has bought us closer to our goal of providing the safest possible working environment for each and every one of our employees, and for that we are grateful."

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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