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Republic Steel contesting $147,000 in proposed OSHA fines

Republic Steel is contesting citations and total proposed fines of $147,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration over an incident that injured a worker at its Blasdell plant last fall.

OSHA said an electric technician suffered third-degree burns on her hands and first-degree burns on her face, when she was removing wiring from a fan motor in an overhead crane on Oct. 16. The agency said an ungrounded electrical conductor touched a grounded surface, causing an arc flash.

OSHA said its investigation found that the Ohio-based steelmaker “failed to provide and ensure the use of effective face and hand protection by its employees.”

“The company should be especially aware of this, since OSHA cited Republic Steel earlier in 2014 for similar hazards at its Lorain, Ohio, facility,” said Michael Scime, OSHA’s Buffalo-area director, in a statement.

OSHA cited Republic for two “repeat” violations and one “serious” violation. Republic has contested the citations and proposed fines to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Republic said it disagreed with OSHA’s findings. “In proceedings before the (commission), OSHA bears the burden of proving that the company has violated the OSHA Act. If OSHA fails to meet that burden, the citations will be dismissed. Because the matter is now in litigation, we cannot comment on the specific substance of the alleged violations.”