The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited TimkenSteel Corporation for a total of six violations of workplace safety at the Faircrest Plant in Canton, OH. The two repeat and four serious violations are the result of two separate OSHA investigations in March 2016.
In the first case, OSHA started an investigation on March 18 following allegations of workplace safety violations at the plant. OSHA’s investigation found the company exposed rolling-mill maintenance workers to fall hazards of up to 20 feet, and failed to install guardrails on walkways.
In the second case, on March 20 OSHA responded to a report that a worker was found dead in an elevator control room. The deceased had been performing monthly fire extinguisher checks, and the investigation determined nitrogen leaked into the control room, creating “an oxygen-deficient atmosphere” that caused the worker’s death. OSHA cited the company for failing to protect workers from potentially hazardous atmospheres created by the introduction of nitrogen into the ventilation system; and for failing to train workers using pneumatic tools powered by nitrogen on the hazards, their effects, and how to detect nitrogen leakage.
The penalties issued for these citations total $113,131.
"As a result of the fatality, the company discontinued the use of nitrogen to power tools and removed all the connections from the ventilation systems," stated Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director. "TimkenSteel has made significant strides in fixing safety discrepancies and improving the framework of the safety and health management system in its aging plants in recent months. These two investigations demonstrate that maintaining a safe working environment requires a commitment to continuous improvement."
OSHA terminology identifies “repeat” violations as those about which an employer has been cited within the preceding five years, at any other facility in federal enforcement states. A “serious” violation is one from which death or serious physical harm may result, and about which an employer knew or should have known exists.
Last month, TimkenSteel signed a settlement agreement with OSHA in which it agreed to abate hazards cited by OSHA at its plants in 2015, including multiple violations of fall protections standards.
In June, following a mediation session with OSHA, it was reported that TimkenSteel agreed in principal to pay a $350,000 fine. The company had faced fines of more than $500,000, but the amount was reduced due to the company’s willingness to work with OSHA and the United Steelworkers union on processes to improve safety.
Under terms of the August 2016 agreement, TimkenSteel will implement numerous enhancements such as a STOP work card program, an anonymous safety reporting system, create a United Steelworkers safety position at three plants, retain an abatement auditor, create an electronic tracking of corrections, and conduct routine safety audits for fall hazards and lockout/tagout procedures.
In May 2015, a TimkenSteel worker was severely injured when a crane's safety latch failed and 1,000 pounds of equipment fell on him at the Gambrinus plant.
In August 2015, a worker suffered multiple broken bones after he fell more than 40 feet while conducting maintenance on a crane at the Faircrest plant. OSHA found the company failed to provide the worker adequate fall protection.
In October 2015, OSHA placed TimkenSteel in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, as a consequence of several violations it discovered at the Harrison and Gambrinus plants, which resulted in fines of $393,500. The company contested those violations.