Texas Steel Company Fined More Than $1.7 Million

Jindal United Steel Corp. has been fined $1,702,800 for more than 180 alleged violations of workplace safety and health standards, said OSHA.

A Texas steel company has been fined $1,702,800 for more than 180 alleged violations of workplace safety and health standards, said OSHA.

OSHA cited U.S. Denro Steel Inc., doing business as Jindal United Steel Corp. (JUSC), with a total of 182 alleged violations, 126 of which are categorized as willful.

The inspection found that the company purposefully did not record numerous injuries and illnesses from 1998 through part of 2000, significantly lowering the company''s lost workday illness and injury rate.

"Documenting workplace injuries and illnesses is a vital part of protecting our nation''s workers," said OSHA Administrator Charles Jeffress. "Under our inspection targeting system, had this employer reported the correct injury and illness rate for 1998, the facility would have likely been placed on the list for a programmed inspection prior to the complaint that initiated this investigation."

Failing to record workplace injuries and illnesses is a serious deficiency, not merely a paperwork violation, according to OSHA.

Accurate records of injuries and illnesses help workers and employers identify hazards that require correction and help OSHA pinpoint worksites that need to do a better job of protecting workers.

JUSC, a steel manufacturer operating in southeastern Texas, specializes in hot rolling steel into plates. The company employs approximately 34 employees at the facility.

"It is abundantly clear that JUSC management chose to under-record injuries and illnesses and neglected numerous other safety and health requirements," said Jeffress. "We cannot tolerate such blatant disregard for the well-being of employees."

OSHA performed a safety inspection at the company in response to a formal complaint.

The initial inspection was later expanded due to alleged safety violations discovered during the initial inspection, including discrepancies in the company''s injury and illness logs.

OSHA also found several large overhead cranes to be in deplorable condition, including missing or deficient brake systems so that stopping the cranes quickly in a an emergency was not possible.

JUSC has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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