OSHA levies $147K fine vs. Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: workplace safety

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed $147,500 in fines against the Mingo Junction facility of Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel Company in Wheeling, W.Va., for alleged willful and serious violations of federal workplace safety standards following the death of an employee in September 2006.

OSHA opened an investigation after receiving notification that an employee had fallen from an elevated walkway that was not protected with guardrails. Two willful citations with proposed penalties totaling $140,000 were issued, alleging a lack of guardrails on a crane runway and the failure to follow lockout/tagout procedures and to conduct periodic inspections on those procedures.

Two serious citations with proposed penalties of $7,500 were issued, alleging failure to post warning signs and lack of readily accessible disconnecting means for a crane power supply.

"The tragedy of serious injuries and fatalities resulting from falls is made worse by the fact they are entirely preventable," said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA area director in Columbus, Ohio. "It should not be difficult to recognize hazards that may lead to falls and to correct them before such tragedies occur."

Since 1976, Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel facilities in Ohio have experienced 16 fatalities, including five resulting from falls. Twelve of the total fatalities have occurred at the Mingo Junction plant. The company has 15 working days from receipt of the current citations to appeal before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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