The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed $77,000 in fines against AK Steel and $70,000 in fines against Harsco Corporation following an inspection into the companies' operations at the AK Steel plant at 913 Bowman Street in Mansfield, Ohio.
OSHA opened a complaint inspection in October 2005 after receiving information regarding potential lead hazards and personal protective equipment issues, and later expanded the investigation to address concerns about unsafe crane operations and potential lockout/tagout dangers. The federal workplace safety agency issued serious and willful citations to AK Steel and one willful citation to Harsco Corp.
The serious violation issued to AK Steel, carrying a proposed penalty of $7,000, alleged that the crane was kept in operation despite a damaged wire rope that had the potential to fail. Both companies were issued willful violations for failing to lockout and/or tagout two furnaces while Harsco employees were cleaning slag pits below the furnaces. AK Steel was cited as the controlling employer on the site, while Harsco received the same citations as the exposing employer.
"There is no question that these workers were allowed to risk their lives doing this work, when the activity could very easily have been conducted safely," said OSHA area director Jule Hovi, Toledo. "There is no excuse for allowing working men and women to work below tons of molten metal without taking every precaution to protect their lives."
OSHA has conducted 159 inspections at AK Steel sites in Ohio since 1972, including 54 at the 913 Bowman Street site in Mansfield. These 159 inspections have resulted in the issuance of 20 willful, 21 repeat and 309 serious violations. More than 150 OSHA inspections have been conducted at sites owned and operated by Harsco since 1974, resulting in two willful, 11 repeat and 182 citations.