Federal regulators have cited Mexican-owned steel manufacturer Republic Engineered Products Inc. for seven willful and three repeat safety violations at its Lorain, Ohio, plant, and are proposing penalties of $563,000.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it began an inspection of the plant in November after a worker broke his pelvis in a 9-foot fall from a a heavy-duty car used to transport wire coil. “This company has a long history of OSHA violations, including employee injuries and fatalities in several of its plants,” OSHA chief David Michaels said in a news release. “It needs to make a serious effort to comply with common-sense regulations to protect its employees.”
The alleged willful violations, which carry proposed penalties of $480,500, are for exposing employees to the risk of falls from the coil transfer car and an unguarded platform, and for failing to take safety measures to prevent accidental activation of equipment.
The Lorain plant was cited by OSHA in 2010 for 13 violations and fined $143,000. Regulators have inspected it 25 times since 1990, citing 76 violations. A worker at the Lorain plant fell to his death from a crane runway in 2007. And, in February, a worker at Republic’s Canton, Ohio, plant was crushed to death by a hydraulic door on a utility truck.
OSHA said the company has been placed into the agency’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program, which puts extra scrutiny on employers that “have demonstrated indifference” to workplace safety requirements.
Republic was acquired in 2005 by two Mexican companies, Grupo Simec and its parent, ICH. Republic spokesman Ken Braun said the owners are committed to safety, although he said problems have been created at Lorain by the age of the approximately 100-year-old plant and downsizing.
“There haven’t been profits [put] ahead of worker safety,” he told the The Chronicle-Telegram newspaper of Elyria, Ohio. “We have employees that from time to time forget what they have been trained to do.”
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply with, or contest, the findings.