Health, Safety, Security and Environment

OSHA: Republic Steel Exposed Employees to Excessive Lead Levels

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Canton, Ohio automotive steel manufacturer Republic Steel is cited for repeated and serious violations after failing to guard machines, lack of lockout/tagout devices and exposing employees to lead.

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A maintenance worker at Republic Steel, an automotive steel manufacturer, suffered severe injuries because the company failed to guard machines and provide lock-out devices, an OSHA investigation found.

The Canton, Ohio-based manufacturer faces $279,578 in proposed penalties after the agency’s investigators found workers at its plant were exposed to machine hazards and lead.

“Companies must continuously monitor their facilities to ensure health and safety procedures are adequate and effective in protecting workers from injuries and illness on the job,” said Dorothy Dougherty, deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health in a statement.

On Dec. 5, 2016, a 64-year-old maintenance worker suffered a fractured pelvis after being struck by a sail – a large clamp that holds the steel billet – because lock-out devices were not affixed to the machine’s operating parts to stop movement during maintenance, OSHA investigators found.

Just right days later, OSHA opened a second investigation after a complaint alleged workers were being exposed to lead. Agency investigators documented seven incidents of lead overexposure in the caster facility.

In total, the agency found two repeated and five serious safety and health violations during the two inspections. Among them, the company failed to:

  • implement engineering controls to lower exposure to steel dust particulates,
  • prohibit employees from eating in areas where lead exposure was possible,
  • affix locking devices to machine operating parts during maintenance and
  • replace damaged guard and stair rails.

In the past decade, Republic Steel has been cited for more than 250 safety and health violations at its facilities across the country.

The company has 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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