News Release USDL: 96-129
Tuesday, April 2, 1996
Contact: Frank Kane (202) 219-8151
OSHA Proposes $1 Million In Penalties Against AK Steel,
Middletown, Ohio, Following Investigation Of Worker Death
The Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA) has
proposed penalties totaling $1,015,000
against AK Steel Corp., Middletown,
Ohio, following investigation of a
flash fire last October in which
one worker was killed and two
others seriously burned.
Secretary of Labor Robert B.
Reich said, "Employers must realize
that serious violations of safety
and health standards will bring
serious consequences. Strong
action will be taken to preserve
the safety and health of America's workplaces."
Assistant Secretary of Labor
for Occupational Safety and Health
Joseph A. Dear said, "AK Steel has
a terrible safety and health record,
with eight workers killed in the
Middletown Works since October 1993.
Hopefully, imposing these penalties
will help turn AK Steel around and
put it on the path to a safe workplace.
We don't want any other workers
unnecessarily exposed to fatal
risks or serious workplace injuries."
Jerry Ball, a 49-year-old
production worker, was fatally
burned Oct. 4, 1995, in the flash
fire; two maintenance employees
also were seriously injured.
Following an investigation into
the fire, OSHA cited AK Steel Corp.
for 14 alleged willful and five
alleged serious violations of
OSHA's lockout/tagout safety
standard. This standard requires
employers to ensure that machinery
or equipment is disconnected from
its energy source and is inoperative
before any repair, maintenance or
servicing work begins.
The proposed penalty for each
willful violation is $70,000, the
maximum under the law. The total
for the alleged willful
violations is $980,000.
The proposed penalty for each
alleged serious violation is $7,000.
The total of proposed penalties for
the serious violations is $35,000.
William M. Murphy, area director
for the Cincinnati area OSHA office,
said that OSHA currently has three
other investigations under way
in the Middletown facility.
One investigation involves
another serious accident that
occurred Dec. 5, 1995, when 14
workers were injured in an explosion
of a gas pipeline for a blast furnace.
Immediately following the
December 5th explosion, OSHA
initiated a comprehensive expanded
inspection, focusing on a review
of the company's safety and health
programs and procedures, including
contractor safety procedures, and
determining whether safety and
health procedures were being followed.
A third investigation involves a
review of the adequacy of the
company's injury and illness records.
About 3,850 employees, represented
by Armco Employees Independent Federation,
are employed in the Middletown Works, an
integrated steel mill. AK Steel has
another 1,900 employees at a
facility in Ashland, Ky.
Willful violations are those
committed with an intentional disregard
of, or plain indifference to, the
requirements of the OSH Act and regulations.
A serious violation is defined
as one in which there is substantial
probability that death or serious
physical harm could result, and the
employer knew or should have
known of the hazard.
The company has 15 working
days to contest the citations
and proposed penalties before
the independent Occupational
Safety and Health Review Commission.