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Ohio steel manufacturer punished for safety violations

An internationally-based steel firm has been fined $563,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after three repeat and seven willful safety violations at a plant in Ohio.

OSHA began its investigation in late 2010 when an employee suffered a workplace injury, breaking his pelvis after falling nine feet from a heavy-duty car. OSHA reported that the company has been found in violation of safety regulations several times before, resulting in injuries and deaths.

The company's Ohio plant alone has been cited 76 times in 25 investigations since 1990, which has placed the company in OSHA's Severe Violators Enforcement Program. The Severe Violators Enforcement Program aims to place special emphasis on employers that have repeatedly failed to make improvements to workplace safety, with the goal of eventually making the workplace safer.

The owners blame the plant's old age for some of the problems and insist that profits are never put above worker safety. They instead blamed the employees, saying that workers occasionally forget or willfully disobey their training.

Given the frequency and long history of the company's violations, OSHA does not agree.

The head of OSHA issued a press release, explaining that the company must make more serious moves to protect its employees in the workplace to avoid even harsher penalties. The company has been granted 15 business days to either comply with OSHA's orders or appeal the organization's investigations, which would likely prompt the OSHA to return to the plant and review any new information alongside the evidence from the first investigation.

Source: FairWarning, "Steel Firm Faces $563,000 in Fines for Safety Violations," Matthew Heller, 23 May 2011

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