OSHA finds Pennsylvania steel company again exposed workers to asbestos hazards

Agency cites company $170K

Posted August 15, 2016

Twice in about a month, a Pennsylvania steel producer gave seven employees tasks that exposed them to asbestos, a widely recognized hazard associated with serious and fatal health risks including lung cancer, OSHA has found.

During the first week of February 2016, at the company's coke production facility in Pittsburgh, five workers removed and replaced packing material containing asbestos at the direction of the company. In March 2016, OSHA found two other employees had burned and removed a rotted section of expansion pipe at the company's direction. The pipe later tested positive for asbestos.

This is the second time since 2011, that OSHA has cited the company for exposing employees to asbestos hazards.

Responding to an employee complaint, OSHA opened an inspection on March 16, 2016, and identified 10 violations for which the company faces $170,000 in penalties.

Inspectors found the company failed — as it did in 2011 — to establish a regulated area and inform employees of the presence of asbestos-containing material, conduct initial employee monitoring and ensure a negative exposure assessment, implement specific engineering controls and designate a qualified person to oversee the work and issued repeat citations. In addition, the employer used compressed air improperly in maintenance and repair operations, did not provide employee training, or utilize appropriate containment and disposal methods.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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