Republic Steel, headquartered in Canton, Ohio, manufacturers and delivers special bar quality steel to automakers, farm equipment makers, and other companies in need of steel products. They have additional locations in Lorain and Massillon Ohio, as well as in New York, Indiana, and Ontario, with more than 2,000 employees.
The company states on its website that it is the leading supplier of special bar quality steel, a product used in “axles, drive trains, suspensions, and other critical components of automobiles, off-highway vehicles, and industrial equipment.” It also states that “safety is of the utmost concern here at Republic.”
Unfortunately, however, the company was recently cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for five serious safety and health violations.
OSHA Cites Company for Lead Exposure and More
Back in December 2016, while working for Republic Steel, a 64-year-old worker was struck by a piece of equipment and suffered a fractured pelvis because of it. It was a “sail” that hit him—a large clamp that holds a steel billet. OSHA investigators found that it was moving because lockout devices were not affixed to the operating parts of the machine, as they should have been.
OSHA also received complaints from Republic employees that workers were being exposed to lead. They conducted an inspection of the facility on December 13, 2016, and documented seven incidents of lead overexposure.
Investigators also found that Republic Steel had failed to:
- implement recommended procedures to lower exposure to steel dust particulates,
- prohibit eating in areas where lead exposure was possible,
- affix locking devices to keep machines parts from moving during maintenance,
- and replace damaged guard and stair rails.
The agency found, in total, two repeated and five serious safety and health violations.
This is not the first time this company has faced OSHA violations. Over the past 10 years, it has been cited for more than 250 at its various locations around the country.
Company Failed to Implement Lockout Procedures
OSHA has created safety standards to prevent movement of machine parts during routine maintenance procedures. Machines can unexpectedly start up or release stored energy during maintenance, which can result in injuries to workers, such as that which occurred to the Republic Steel employee. OSHA notes that when companies fail to control hazardous energy, injuries can be serious or even fatal, and workers injured in this way lose an average of 24 workdays a year for recuperation.
Companies are directed to develop, implement, and enforce an energy control program. Companies are then to use lockout devices for equipment that hold machines in a safe or “off” position, preventing them from turning on or otherwise moving in a way that would endanger workers. In addition to using these devices, companies are also supposed to regularly test the devices and maintain them to be sure they’re working correctly.
Focusing on representing injury victims nationwide in product liability and complex personal injury litigation, Mr. Cohn has litigated a wide-array of cases against numerous manufacturers, employers, landowners, and negligent third-parties—resulting in many multi-million dollar recoveries. In addition to working for nationwide plaintiffs firms in New York, he is also a former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney.