An electric technician at the Republic Steel Corp. steel manufacturing plant in Blasdell, N.Y. was removing wiring from a fan motor in an overhead crane on Oct. 16, 2014, when an ungrounded electrical conductor touched a grounded surface causing an arc flash. The electric technician sustained third degree burns on her hand and first degree burns on her face.
An investigation by the Buffalo Area Office of the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that Republic Steel failed to provide and ensure the use of effective face and hand protection by its employees.
"These injuries were avoidable. Republic Steel has a responsibility to make sure that its electric technicians are properly trained, equipped with and using personal protective equipment to protect from arc flash. In this case, that would include a face shield and rubber insulating gloves. The company should be especially aware of this, since OSHA cited Republic Steel earlier in 2014 for similar hazards at its Lorain, Ohio, facility," said Michael Scime, OSHA's area director in Buffalo.
As a result of these conditions, OSHA cited Republic Steel for two repeat violations, with proposed penalties of $70,000 each for the lack of hand and face protection. The steel manufacturer was also cited for one serious violation, with a $7,000 fine, for failing to protect employees against contact with energized electrical equipment. Total proposed penalties are $147,000.
In response, the steel manufacturer released the following statement Monday, according to a report from WGRZ.com:
Republic Steel disagrees with OSHA's findings and has contested the citations in their entirety. The matter is now pending before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. In proceedings before the OSHRC, OSHA bears the burden of proving that the Company has violated the OSHA Act. If OSHA fails to meet that burden, the citations will be dismissed. Because the matter is now in litigation, we cannot comment on the specific substance of the alleged violations.