AK Steel on October 5 responded to allegations by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of a small number of recordkeeping violations at the company's Middletown (Ohio) Works. The alleged violations followed a seven-month inspection by OSHA that took place at the plant from January 12, 2010 to August 11, 2010 under OSHA's Local Emphasis Program for primary metal producers.

"Safety is AK Steel's highest priority, and our record accurately reflects our unwavering commitment to workplace safety,' said James L. Wainscott, chairman, president and CEO of AK Steel. "To the extent OSHA alleges errors in even a very small percentage of our records, we absolutely disagree and we will vigorously defend our position."

OSHA Investigation – Middletown Works, January 12, 2010 to August 11, 2010

  • During the course of the on-site investigation, which involved three OSHA compliance officers, as well as a physician from the Department of Labor, AK Steel provided nearly four years' worth of safety and health records.
  • The record review period represented more than 19 million hours worked by AK Steel employees, during which time the plant's OSHA recordable injury rate was, on average, about 8 times better than the steel industry average.
  • OSHA alleges that 13 Middletown Works employees experienced work-related hearing losses. However, nine of the 13 employees work in locations where the noise level is below the threshold for which OSHA even requires an annual hearing test. An independent third party audiologist determined that the hearing loss experienced by all 13 employees was unrelated to workplace exposure.
  • OSHA alleges that AK Steel failed to properly record several work-related injuries as ones involving restricted work. In each case, however, the injured employees were examined by a physician and determined to be capable of performing the full scope of their job. OSHA has offered absolutely no evidence, however, that would contradict the physician's determination.

AK Steel's Safety Program
AK Steel said that its safety program is one of the most effective in heavy manufacturing, and routinely the company's safety record is 6 to 10 times better than the steel industry average. At Middletown Works, the current OSHA recordable injury rate is 0.41, as it was during the entire seven months when OSHA compliance officers were on-site conducting their inspection and record review.

By comparison, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees making cookies experienced an OSHA recordable injury rate of 4.6 in 2008, the most recent data available [http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osh/os/ostb2071.pdf) (NAICS Code 311821]. That injury rate is more than 10 times higher than for AK Steel's 2,000 employees at its Middletown integrated steelmaking plant.

About AK Steel
AK Steel produces flat-rolled carbon, stainless and electrical steels, primarily for automotive, appliance, construction and electrical power generation and distribution markets. The company employs approximately 6,200 men and women in Middletown, Mansfield, Coshocton and Zanesville, Ohio; Butler, Pa.; Ashland, Ky.; Rockport, Ind.; and its corporate headquarters in West Chester, Ohio. AK Tube LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of AK Steel, employs about 300 men and women in plants in Walbridge, Ohio, and Columbus, Ind. AK Tube produces carbon and stainless electric resistance welded (ERW) tubular steel products for truck, automotive and other markets.