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News Release USDL 98-227
Thursday, May 28, 1998
Contact: Frank Kane (202) 219-8151
Numerous Willful and Serious Violations Cited
OSHA PROPOSES $463,000 IN FINES AGAINST CLAREMONT, N.H., STEEL FIRM FOLLOWING INVESTIGATION OF TWO WORKER DEATHS
The deaths of two workers resulted today in proposed penalties of $463,024 against Claremont Steel Corp., Claremont, N.H., for alleged violations of safety requirements, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced.
"This double tragedy might have been averted if Claremont had observed OSHA standards," said OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress. "Strong penalties are warranted in cases such as this."
OSHA issued citations for 10 alleged willful violations with a total penalty of $416,500 and 38 alleged serious violations with a total penalty of $46,524. There were 32 alleged other-than-serious violations with no penalty.
Claremont is a bridge steel fabrication facility with about 55 employees. The company was previously known as East Coast Steel and, before that, as East Coast Steel Erectors, Inc.
On Dec. 16, 1997, two employees of the company were attempting to bend and shape two 62-foot long steel beams using a hydraulic jack placed between the centers of the beams. The employees were in the process of heating strategic points on the beams when the jack apparently slipped out and the two beams came crashing together, killing the workers instantly.
OSHA said that examination of the jack indicated it had been previously damaged during use so that it did not properly engage the load.
Earlier, there was another incident where an employee was seriously injured by a jack slipping. After the fatalities, OSHA inspectors notified Claremont that any damaged jacks still in service must be removed from service immediately. On Dec. 29, almost two weeks after the accident, an OSHA inspector found another damaged hydraulic jack in use, of the same make and model as the one involved in the deaths.
The alleged willful violations that relate directly to the fatal accident have to do with the employer's failure to properly inspect hydraulic jacks; allowing employees to use damaged hydraulic jacks; failure to equip hydraulic jacks with end caps; and failure to ensure that steel beam loads were properly cribbed, blocked or otherwise secured against displacement.
Claremont has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
(Editor's Note: See Attached Fact Sheet for Summary of Citations and Proposed Penalties)
The text of this news release is on the Internet World Wide Web at http://www.osha.gov. Information on this news release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-219-8151.
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