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Tonawanda Coke ‘disappointed’ with OSHA findings, citations

Tonawanda Coke said it was “greatly disappointed” with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s findings and citations against the company stemming from a workplace fatality.

“Tonawanda Coke is hopeful that the company will be able to work with OSHA to resolve this matter through OSHA’s available procedures,” the company said in a statement.

OSHA cited Tonawanda Coke for eight violations of workplace safety standards and proposed $175,200 in related fines. The agency released its findings and citations after investigating the Jan. 6 death of Richard Wade, a 60-year-old worker who was pulled into the rotating shaft of a coal elevator.

Wade was servicing the coal elevator at the time of the incident. OSHA said that training employees on “lockout” procedures, which involve shutting down the power source for equipment, and ensuring those procedures were used “would have prevented this needless loss of a worker’s life.”

Tonawanda Coke responded by saying that safety “is Tonawanda Coke’s No. 1 priority. Unfortunately, the tragic event of January 6th of this year claimed the life of a well-loved, long time employee.”

OSHA’s Buffalo area director said the agency had cited Tonawanda Coke in the past “for not following the requirements of the lockout standard.”

The company, which makes foundry coke, a coal by-product, said it has “conducted an extensive internal investigation with the assistance of an outside party while working with OSHA.”

Tonawanda Coke received its citations on Tuesday and was given 15 business days to hold an informal conference with OSHA or to contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.