Republic Engineered Products Inc. is facing $563,000 in fines for seven willful and three repeat safety violations for failing to protect workers from fall hazards and implement adequate energy source lockout/tagout procedures to prevent injury from hazardous equipment at its Lorain, OH, steel manufacturing plant.
In addition, the company is now on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Severe Violators Enforcement Program, which focuses enforcement resources on employers that have demonstrated indifference to their Occupational Safety and Health Act obligations by committing willful, repeated or failure-to-abate violations.
“There is no excuse for Republic Engineered Products to continue to neglect its workers’ safety,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. “This company has a long history of OSHA violations, including employee injuries and fatalities in several of its plants. It needs to make a serious effort to comply with common-sense regulations to protect its employees.”
OSHA began the inspection of the Lorain facility in November 2010 after a worker was hospitalized with a broken pelvis when he fell 9 feet from a coil transfer car in the bar mill. The willful violations carried proposed penalties of $480,500 for exposing employees to falls from the car and an unguarded platform, and for failing to affix lockout/tagout devices to control the unexpected energizing of equipment. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
The repeat violations with proposed fines of $82,500 were for failing to train employees in lockout/tagout procedures; specifying the procedural steps necessary to lock out electrical, hydraulic and gravitational energy sources for the coil transfer car; and isolate all hazardous energy sources. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously faced citations for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The company faced OSHA fines in 2008 at the Lorain facility and its Blasdell, N.Y., facility for failing to develop and adequately train workers on lockout/tagout procedures. Failure to operate energy isolation devices properly was an issue in Blasdell in 2008.
The company’s Lorain plant, which employs 250 people, also faced another OSHA fine for 13 violations. That fine was for $143,000. The Lorain facility has seen inspections 25 times since 1990, resulting in 76 violations in addition to the new ones.
Canton, OH-based Republic Engineered Products employs over 2,200 workers and operates additional manufacturing facilities in Canton and Massillon, OH, as well as in Blasdell, N.Y.; Gary, Ind.; and Hamilton, Ontario, in Canada. Excluding the Lorain location, the company’s combined sites have undergone inspections 53 times since 1990, resulting in 124 violations.