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OSHA fines New York steel plant $147,000 for “avoidable” hazards

May 7, 2015 | By Renée Francoeur

May 7, 2015 – An electric technician at the Republic Steel Corp. steel manufacturing plant in Blasdell, N.Y. was removing wiring from a fan motor in an overhead crane on October 16, 2014, when an ungrounded electrical conductor touched a grounded surface, causing an arc flash, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The technician sustained third degree burns on her hand and first degree burns on her face.

An investigation by OSHA’s Buffalo area office found that Republic Steel failed to provide and ensure the use of effective face and hand protection by its employees.

“These injuries were avoidable. Republic Steel has a responsibility to make sure that its electric technicians are properly trained, equipped with and using personal protective equipment to protect from arc flash,” said Michael Scime, OSHA’s area director in Buffalo. “In this case, that would include a face shield and rubber insulating gloves. The company should be especially aware of this, since OSHA cited Republic Steel earlier in 2014 for similar hazards at its Lorain, Ohio facility.”

OSHA has cited Republic Steel for two repeat violations, with proposed penalties of $70,000 each for the lack of hand and face protection. The steel manufacturer was also cited for one serious violation, with a $7,000 fine, for failing to protect employees against contact with energized electrical equipment. Total proposed penalties are $147,000.

Republic Steel has contested its citations and proposed penalties to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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