U.S. Department of Labor | Dec. 28, 2015
OSHA cites business for exposing immigrant workers with limited English
skills to many hazards; company faces more than $366K in proposed penalties
Whistleblower investigation pending after termination of 2 workers at St. Louis steel plant
ST. LOUIS - Two years after a worker died by electrocution at a steel plant owned by St. Louis Cold Drawn, inspectors from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found the company continues to expose its workforce, predominantly consisting of Asian immigrants with limited English speaking skills, to amputation, electrical and other hazards daily.
Responding to a complaint alleging unsafe working conditions, OSHA cited St. Louis Cold Drawn Inc. for two willful, seven repeated and 22 serious safety and health violations on Dec. 28. Proposed penalties total $366,300.
During the investigation, one worker alleged that management fired him after he spoke to OSHA officials, and another said the company terminated him for alerting management to safety hazards. The agency has opened a whistleblower investigation.
"Any hazards at the company are inexcusable, especially following OSHA's intervention after a worker died by electrocution in 2013," said Bill McDonald, OSHA's area director in St. Louis. "St. Louis Cold Drawn continues to exploit its non-English-proficient workforce by exposing them to unsafe working conditions. The company needs to make fundamental workplace changes to comply with the law and protect employees."
OSHA's investigation also found that in September 2013, a non-English-speaking production line operator suffered the amputation of his finger because the machine lacked adequate guarding. In 2014, another worker experienced severe lacerations when he touched moving machine parts.
Agency inspectors found numerous violations, including the following:
- Inadequate machine safety guards.
- Insufficient crane inspections.
- Workers exposed to machines operating during service and maintenance.
- Faulty head protection.
- Hot work conducted near combustible materials.
- Multiple electrical safety hazards.
- Workers exposed to fall hazards dueto lack of stair rails and uncovered pits.
- Improperly stored compressed gas and oxygen cylinders.
- Blocked exits.
- Unsanitary conditions.
- Accumulating explosive dust.
View current citations here.
St. Louis Cold Drawn employs approximately 90 workers and has a second facility in Mexico. 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.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, 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 St. Louis Area Office at 314-425-4249.
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: 15-2381-CHI
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