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Steel equipment manufacturer faces $400,000 in OSHA fines

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A steel equipment manufacturer is facing nearly $400,000 in fines proposed by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration after 1,000 pounds of equipment fell on a worker, fracturing his left foot and breaking several bones.

A crane's safety latch failed at the Gambrinus, steel plant owned by Canton, Ohio-based TimkenSteel Corp., causing injuries that kept the seven-year employee out of work for several months, according to an OSHA news release issued Tuesday. The agency issued one willful, one repeated and two serious citations last week after conducting an inspection following the May incident.

“This worker is lucky to be alive,” Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland, said in the statement. “We also observed conditions where workers could have fallen or lost limbs. It is unacceptable that the company has repeatedly been cited for these same hazards. TimkenSteel's safety and health program has major deficiencies that need to be addressed immediately.”

The injury occurred days after OSHA initiated an inspection at the company's Harrison steel plant under the Primary Metal Emphasis Program, which aims to identify, reduce or eliminate worker exposures to harmful chemical and physical health hazards in facilities in the primary metal industries, according to agency. OSHA issued eight repeated, eight serious and one other-than-serious citation at the Harrison plant site. The hazards cited by the agency range from falls due to lack of guardrails, slippery surfaces and protective equipment to electrical hazards.

TimkenSteel faces proposed fines of $393,500 between both plants and has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which focuses resources on inspecting employers who, according to the agency, have demonstrated indifference to their Occupational Safety and Health Act obligations through willful, repeated or failure-to-abate violations.

TimkenSteel has performed consistently better than the industry average in the prevention of lost-time accidents over the last five years, a company spokesman said in a statement.

“We have no higher priority than workplace safety,” the spokesman said. “Our goal is for every employee to return home safely at the end of each workday, and so we've moved quickly to make corrective actions and will continue to work closely with OSHA to eliminate all issues.”