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Region 4 News Release   ATL: 03-09
Thurs., Jan. 23, 2003
Contact: Jo Anne Burgoyne     Roberto Sanchez
Phone: (404) 562-2076     (205) 731-1534


Lack of Worker Protection at Fairfield, Ala., Steel Plant Leads to
OSHA Citations and $87,500 in Proposed Penalties

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration today cited the United States Steel Corporation, Fairfield Works, issuing one repeat and17 serious citations with proposed penalties totaling $87,500, following three separate inspections of the facility.

OSHA began an investigation Aug. 13, after being notified of an Aug. 3 accident at the plant that resulted in the amputation of a worker's feet. According to agency findings, the employee was standing on a coiled metal strip helping to lower the top of a dryer tank when an operator activated a mechanism that pulled the strip and the worker's feet into machine rollers. The company received seven serious citations, including failing to use proper lockout/tagout procedures that would have rendered the machinery inoperable before maintenance work began. Proposed penalties for these citations are $33,500.

"Following the OSHA requirement to make the machine inoperable could have prevented this accident," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's Birmingham area director. "The OSHA lockout/tagout standard was developed to protect workers from this type of accident."

After completion of the accident investigation, OSHA was informed of additional unsafe working conditions at the plant. Investigations, conducted on Sept. 17 and Oct. 22, resulted in one alleged repeat and 10 alleged serious citations with proposed penalties totaling $54,000. The company was cited for repeated failure to protect workers from safety hazards associated with the use of electrical power. The serious safety hazards included lack of machine guarding; exposing employees to falls from stairs, elevated working surfaces and slips on floors; improper labeling of hazardous chemicals; lack of confined space entry procedures and improper handling and storage of compressed gas cylinders.

The Pittsburgh, Pa.-based company has 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The agency issues a serious citation when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

Staff from the Birmingham OSHA office, located at 2047 Canyon Rd., conducted the inspections; telephone: (205) 731-1534. OSHA also has a compliance assistant program, separate from its enforcement program, to help employers initiate and maintain an effective safety and health program at their facilities.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is dedicated to saving lives, preventing injuries and illnesses, and protecting America's workers. Safety and health add value to business, the workplace and life. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

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Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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