OSHA cites business for exposing immigrant workers with limited English skills to many hazards

Whistleblower investigation pending after termination of 2 workers at St. Louis steel plant

Posted January 5, 2016

Two years after a worker died by electrocution at a steel plant, inspectors from OSHA found the company continues to expose its workforce, predominantly consisting of Asian immigrants with limited English speaking skills, to amputation, electrical and other hazards daily.

Responding to a complaint alleging unsafe working conditions, OSHA cited the company for 2 willful, 7 repeated, and 22 serious safety and health violations on December 28. Proposed penalties total $366,300.

During the investigation, one worker alleged that management fired him after he spoke to OSHA officials, and another said the company terminated him for alerting management to safety hazards. The agency has opened a whistleblower investigation.

OSHA’s investigation also found that in September 2013, a non-English-speaking production line operator suffered the amputation of his finger because the machine lacked adequate guarding. In 2014, another worker experienced severe lacerations when he touched moving machine parts.

Agency inspectors found numerous violations, including the following:

  • Inadequate machine safety guards,
  • Insufficient crane inspections,
  • Workers exposed to machines operating during service and maintenance,
  • Faulty head protection,
  • Hot work conducted near combustible materials,
  • Multiple electrical safety hazards,
  • Workers exposed to fall hazards due to lack of stair rails and uncovered pits,
  • Improperly stored compressed gas and oxygen cylinders,
  • Blocked exits,
  • Unsanitary conditions, and
  • Accumulating explosive dust.

View current citations here.
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The company employs approximately 90 workers and has a second facility in Mexico. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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