Republic Steel has agreed to pay $2.4 million and rectify safety and health violations at four of its facilities, as part of an agreement with OSHA.
The Canton, Ohio-based steelmaker has agreed to correct more than 100 alleged OSHA violations “and implement numerous safeguards” at its Ohio plants in Lorain, Canton and Massillon and at its facility in Blasdell, N.Y., promising to pay additional fines if “there is a determination of substantial non-compliance with the agreement,” according to OSHA.
The company has agreed to abate all safety and health hazards identified by OSHA, including willful and serious violations for failure to provide required fall protection; failure to implement lockout/tag out procedures to protect workers who service or maintain machines; and failure to provide machine guarding to protect workers from hazardous machinery.
The steelmaker, which is in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, also has promised to:
- Hire additional safety and health staff.
- Conduct internal safety and health inspections with union representatives.
- Establish and implement a comprehensive safety and health management program to identify and correct hazardous working conditions.
- Hire third-party auditors to assure that hazards are identified and improvements are made.
- Meet quarterly with OSHA staff to assure implementation of this agreement.
"By agreeing to the terms of this settlement, Republic Steel has demonstrated a commitment to change its culture, invest in its employees and work with OSHA and the United Steelworkers to make significant changes at its facilities that will improve the safety and health of its workers," said Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. "The Labor Department looks forward to working with Republic Steel to ensure that it lives up to its commitment to improve workplace safety."
In addition to the aforementioned improvements, Republic Steel has agreed to several key changes in the management of its safety and health program, including:
- Reviewing and improving plant procedures to ensure OSHA compliance with machine guarding, control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), fall protection, PPE and other critical safety procedures.
- Implementing an electronic tracking system for identifying hazards/near misses, injuries and illnesses reported by workers.
- Mailing a letter to workers' families detailing the company's commitment to health and safety.
- Providing a card to employees informing them of the right to refuse to perform work that they reasonably and in good faith believe is unsafe or unhealthful without fear of being disciplined.
- Providing supplemental training for all production and maintenance employees, including managers.
"The terms of this agreement to improve conditions and training are unprecedented," OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels said. "The company has committed to supporting extensive worker participation, an important role for the joint health and safety committee and implementation of a comprehensive safety and health program to better protect Republic Steel employees."
The agreement also resolves contested citations from two OSHA inspections regarding a June 2013 arc-flash incident at the Lorain facility and a case alleging numerous fall hazards at the company's Canton facility.