Chesterton Tribune



ArcelorMittal fined $7,000 in fatal scalding

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ArcelorMittal has agreed to pay a $7,000 fine, in connection with an accident at its Indiana Harbor facility in February which claimed a United Steelworker’s life.

Robert “Lane” Watts, 62, of Westville, died of “thermal injuries” on March 21 at the University of Chicago Medical Center, six weeks after he fell into a sink hole and was scalded at Indiana Harbor.

According to a joint investigation conducted by union and management, at 5:45 p.m. Feb. 8 Watts and a co-worker were putting a brine pump into service outside the West Boiler House Water Treatment Facility, when Watts fell into a sink hole first noticed in December and caused by a leaking line from the adjacent lift pit, which receives blow-down water from the boilers and water treatment.

That sink hole was located between the lift pit and the brine pit.

The co-worker advised investigators that as he and Watts exited the building their vision was limited because it was dark and “a large amount of steam was evolving off the pit.”

Although “barriers had been placed around the area to prevent passers-by from entering the area,” the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration noted that Watts and his co-worker, in order to service the brine pump, “had to walk in the direct area of (the) sink hole.”

That sink hole was 11’ x 9’ and “about eight feet deep,” IOSHA said, and should have been enclosed by “standard railings” or otherwise “constantly attended by someone” to warn people in its vicinity.

IOSHA deemed the safety violation to be a “serious” one and assessed a penalty of $7,000.


Posted 7/8/2014