Chesterton Tribune



USS contesting fine in Gary Works death

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U.S. Steel Corporation (USS) is contesting a $14,000 fine imposed by the Indiana Department of Labor (DOL) in connection with the electrocution death in September of a United Steelworker at Gary Works.

On Friday, DOL spokesperson Kristen Reed confirmed that “the investigation is in litigation with the Board of Safety Review,” after USS contested DOL’s Feb. 17 safety order.

That order assessed two fines, each in the amount of $7,000 and both for “serious” violations, following the death of Jonathan Arizzola, 30, of Valparaiso, who on Sept. 30, 2016, was performing maintenance on a 501 crane in the Gary Works 84-inch hot strip mill slab yard when he was electrocuted.

According to the DOL order, “Collector rails 6, 7, and 8 were live, exposing employees to an electrical hazard.”

DOL imposed the first $7,000 fine pursuant to this federal regulation: “Qualified persons (i.e., those permitted to work on or near exposed energized parts) shall, at a minimum, be trained in and familiar with the skills and techniques necessary to distinguish exposed live parts from other parts of electrical equipment.”

DOL imposed the second $7,000 fine after its investigation found the following: “Protective shields, protective barriers, or insulating materials were not used to protect each employee from shock, burns, or other electrically related injuries while that employee was working near exposed energized parts.”

DOL issued its Feb. 17 order only six months after fining USS a total of $28,000 for four “serious” violations in connection with a similar incident: the electrocution death in June 2016 of electrical maintenance technician Charles Kremke, 67, at Gary Works.

According to that earlier order, dated Oct. 4, Kremke was changing out a 250-volt fuse holder at the No. 1 Caster, Westinghouse Basement, when, “while performing this work, it was not determined that the 120-volt programmable logic control and the 480-volt transformer were energized.”

In addition to a $7,000 fine imposed for the violation of the federal regulation requiring qualified persons to be trained “to distinguish exposed live parts from other parts of electrical equipment,” the Oct. 4 order assessed three additional $7,000 fines for these violations:

* Live parts to which an employee might be exposed were not de-energized before the employee worked on or near them.

* Before an employee began working on equipment believed to have been de-energized, a qualified person “did not verify” that the equipment had in fact been de-energized.

* USS did not provide, or the employee did not use, “protective shields, protective barriers, or insulating materials as necessary to avoid inadvertent contact” with energized parts in the “confined or enclosed space” in which the employee was working at the time.

After Kremke’s death in June--but before Arizzola’s in September--USS laid off 38 maintenance workers at Gary Works, in a move which the United Steelworkers criticized as putting workers in danger.



Posted 5/15/2017




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