Republic Steel will pay a $2.4 million fine and settle health and safety violations at four of its facilities, including three in Ohio, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials said.
The agreement covers Republic facilities in Canton, Lorain and Massillon as well as one in Blasdell, NY.
The violations the company faced included: Failing to provide workers with adequate protection against falls, failing to protect employees who service or maintain machines and failing to provide machine guarding to protect workers from hazardous machinery.
“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 U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “The Labor Department looks forward to working with Republic Steel to ensure that it lives up to its commitment to improve workplace safety.”
The settlement, in which the company agrees to abate all cited hazards and implement numerous safeguards to prevent future injuries, addresses more than 100 safety and health violations found by OSHA at the company’s facilities during inspections conducted in the fall of 2013, OSHA said.
The settlement also covers citations the company contested from two previous inspections. One involved a June 2013 arc flash incident at the Lorain facility. An arc flash is an unwanted electrical discharge that travels through the air between conductors or from a conductor to the ground. It is hazardous because it usually results in an explosion. The incident involved “numerous fall hazards” at the company’s Canton facility that OSHA issued with citations in August 2013.
OSHA said it launched the inspections last fall after an employee at Republic’s Lorain, Ohio, plant fell through the roof of a building and ended up seriously injured. The agency said it expanded its inspections to all Republic Steel’s facilities under its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
Jaime Vigil, the company’s president and chief executive, said Republic wanted to do the right thing.
“When our owners purchased this company in 2005, they acquired a business that had gone through multiple bankruptcies, burdened by aging and antiquated facilities, and neglected over an extended period of time due to the financial situation of the company” he said.
“Republic’s new owners have invested over $700 million into the Company, protected thousands of jobs, and made countless safety upgrades,” he said.
The United Steelworkers were involved in crafting the agreement, the union said in a news release.
“The settlement includes a very comprehensive injury and illness prevention program that goes far beyond simple compliance with OSHA standards,” said the USW release. “Under the program, Republic and the USW will work together to find and fix workplace hazards.
As a term of the agreement, Republic has “agreed on additional penalty amounts in the event there is a determination of substantial non-compliance with the agreement.”
The release said the company will, “hire additional safety and health staff; conduct internal safety and health inspections with representatives of the United Steelworkers; 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; and meet quarterly with OSHA staff to assure implementation of this agreement.”