Manufacturer’s $2.4M OSHA fine just the tip of the iceberg

Maintaining a solid safety program in a manufacturing plant takes time and a lot of due diligence – and money, of course. 

The cost of not focusing on safety, though, can be much, much more.

That’s the lesson an Ohio-based steelmaker recently learned after OSHA hit the company with a staggering $2.4 million fine.

The whole story begins with a serious worker injury at a Republic Steel plant last fall – which quickly spawned into a full-scale safety investigation of all of the manufacturer’s facilities.

Inspections lasted more than two months

OSHA cops launched an inspection of the steelmaker’s Lorain, OH facility last fall after a worker was seriously injured when he fell through the plant’s roof.

Republic Steel was already in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (PDF), which mandates follow-up inspections of companies with troubled safety records.

The steelmaker also had recently been inspected and fined twice last year by OSHA after:

So OSHA opened up a far-reaching investigation of the steelmaker’s facilities – and it keep them busy for a while.

Republic Steel said in a statement that 23 OSHA inspectors took almost 80 days scouring three Ohio plants in:

  • Lorain
  • Canton
  • Massillon, and
  • one plant in Blasdell, NY.

Huge fine is just the beginning

In the end, OSHA discovered more than 100 safety and health violations at the four plants, including failure to:

  • provide required fall protection
  • implement lockout/tagout procedures, and
  • provide machine guarding.

All told, the violations added up to the $2.4 million penalty.

But it doesn’t end there.

Republic Steel also spent more than seven months with OSHA and USW coming to terms on a huge settlement agreement (PDF)  that requires the manufacturer to:

  • hire additional safety and health staff
  • conduct safety audits with USW
  • create a comprehensive safety and health program, and
  • hire third-party auditors to check up on them.

The manufacturer must also:

  • meet with OSHA on a quarterly basis to make sure it’s following the agreement, and
  • mail a letter to workers’ families explaining its new health and safety program.

What do you think of Republic Steel’s huge fine and comprehensive agreement with OSHA?

Be sure to give your take in the comments section below.

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