May 4, 2015 BOS 2015-096
Lack of protective equipment for Republic Steel plant electrician results in
1st and 3rd degree burns after arc flash
Steel manufacturer faces $147K in fines for "avoidable" hazards
BUFFALO, New York – An electric technician at the Republic Steel Corp. steel manufacturing plant in Blasdell was removing wiring from a fan motor in an overhead crane on October 16, 2014, when an ungrounded electrical conductor touched a grounded surface causing an arc flash. The electric technician sustained third degree burns on her hand and first degree burns on her face.
An investigation by the Buffalo Area Office of the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that Republic Steel failed to provide and ensure the use of effective face and hand protection by its employees.
"These injuries were avoidable. Republic Steel has a responsibility to make sure that its electric technicians are properly trained, equipped with and using personal protective equipment to protect from arc flash. In this case, that would include a face shield and rubber insulating gloves. The company should be especially aware of this, since OSHA cited Republic Steel earlier in 2014 for similar hazards at its Lorain, Ohio, facility," said Michael Scime, OSHA's area director in Buffalo.
As a result of these conditions, OSHA cited Republic Steel for two repeat violations, with proposed penalties of $70,000 each for the lack of hand and face protection. The steel manufacturer was also cited for one serious violation, with a $7,000 fine, for failing to protect employees against contact with energized electrical equipment. Total proposed penalties are $147,000.
The citations can be viewed here*.
Republic Steel has contested its citations and proposed penalties to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Buffalo Area Office at 716-551-3053.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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Release Number: 15-686-NEW
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*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.