OSHA Cites Piping Company With $175,000 Following July Explosion

Pittsburgh, PA (CompNewsNetwork) - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited U.S. Steel Corp. and Power Piping Co. with safety citations for failing to provide an effective energy control procedure and exposing workers to burns following an explosion at U.S. Steel's Clairton Works facility in Clairton, Pa.

OSHA initiated an investigation in July 2010 after being notified that workers from both companies suffered first, second and third-degree burns, as well as other serious injuries. As a result of the investigation, OSHA cited U.S. Steel for two willful and 11 serious violations, with a total penalty of $143,500.

Power Piping Co., which was contracted by U.S. Steel to provide steam fitting services at the site, was cited for six serious violations, with $31,500 in penalties.

"U.S. Steel and Power Piping did not have the proper controls in place to prevent worker exposure to hazardous energy," said Robert Szymanski, director of OSHA's Pittsburgh's Area Office. "These violations must be abated immediately to prevent future incidents."

The alleged willful violations for U.S. Steel involve the company's failure to provide an effective energy control procedure. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

That company's alleged serious violations include a lack of fall protection, inadequate lockout/tagout to prevent the inadvertent release of energy, a deficient process safety management program, and failure to implement an emergency response plan, evaluate respiratory hazards, use flame retardant gloves and use approved electrical equipment. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Power Piping's alleged serious violations include inadequate energy control procedures, a lack of flame-retardant hand protection and the company's failure to evaluate the respiratory hazards posed by coke oven gases.

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, ask for an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Pittsburgh Area Office; telephone 412-395-4903. To report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

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