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Lorain steel company faces $563,000 in OSHA penalties

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Steel manufacturer Republic Engineered Products must answer to OSHA for seven allegedly willful violations and three alleged repeat safety violations at its Lorain plant.

OSHA has proposed penalties total­ing $563,000.

OSHA cited the plant for failing to protect workers from fall hazards and implement adequate energy-source lockout procedures designed to prevent injury from hazardous equipment.

The charges earned the company the dubious distinction of being placed in OSHA’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program (SVEP), a ­program designed to focus enforcement resources on repeat offenders. SVEP status subjects an employer to OSHA’s harshest scrutiny—and highest penalties.

A November 2010 incident—in which a worker suffered a broken pelvis after falling nine feet from a materials-handling rig—first caught OSHA’s attention. In the months following the accident, Republic allegedly failed to provide training on how to lock out electrical and hydrau­lic energy sources to ensure that the rig didn’t move while employees were working on it.

OSHA deemed the violations leading to the fall willful, meaning they were committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. The subsequent failures to train workers were deemed repeat violations.

Fines for the willful violations ­totaled $480,500, and the repeat violations came to $82,500.

In 2008, the company was cited for failing to develop and adequately train workers on lockout procedures at both the Lorain facility and its Blasdell, N.Y., plant. Failure to properly operate energy-isolation devices also was cited in Blasdell in 2008.

The company had 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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