Friday, January 14, 2011

OSHA Fines U.S. Steel for Explosion

Last July’s explosion at the Clairton Coke Works that injured 20 workers has resulted in fines from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, to U.S. Steel and a contractor, Power Piping Co. of Etna.

U.S. Steel fines total $143,500; Power Piping’s, $31,500. OSHA Area Director Robert Szymanski says it's extremely important to control hazardous energy so it's not released suddenly, as happened at Clairton, so the companies should have shut down and purged the coke oven gas lines before allowing employees to perform maintenance work.

John Gismondi, a lawyer representing some of the workers who suffered serious burns, says OSHA’s report confirms U.S. Steel planned the job and directed how the work should be done. He says the agency's findings of "willful violations" is "pretty rare".

The companies can contest the citations.

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