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Examining workplace safety in the steel mill industry

Although the risks in the steel mill industry may not be new, a recent investigation by officials for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration suggests that more safety rules or enforcement measures may be warranted.

In this case, the company under investigation is Vallourec Star. The company's website claims that in 2013 it finished first among all oilfield product manufacturers. The company also has subsidiaries, one of which operates facilities in Oklahoma. 

Yet despite that volume of business, OSHA cited the company for 22 serious safety violations at a single facility. The company may now be facing about $94,000 in fines.

The factory came under scrutiny after a machinery operator was seriously injured between two machines. OSHA officials believe that the workplace accident might have been prevented if the company had implemented procedures to protect workers from moving parts, such as installing adequate machine guards. In addition, OSHA officials stated that the company had an obligation to inform machinery operators of the daily hazards that they may face. 

This post reminds us that proper workplace safety includes adequate worker training, in addition to installing safeguards against workplace hazards. Moving machine parts, openings in floors, walkways around ladders, and platforms or staircases without guards and handrails are but a few examples of potential OSHA violations.

Although workers' compensation insurance does not require a finding of fault against either the employer or the employee, an attorney knows that adverse OSHA citations may provide leverage in any negotiations with an employer. Indeed, benefits after a workplace accident may not be adequate to cover all of an employee's lost wages and treatment needs. With the help of an attorney that focuses on workers' compensation claims, an injured worker might obtain a better outcome.

Source: WKBN, "OSHA: 22 Vallourec citations; worker crushed, injured in Feb.," Sept. 10, 2014

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