By Treven Pyles
Posted on December 07th, 2016
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration penalized once again U.S. Steel Corp $170K in August 2016, for giving tasks to some employees that exposed them to asbestos at the coke production facility in Pittsburg.
U.S. Steel Corp., headquartered in Pittsburgh, is known for its major production operations in North America and Central Europe. The company manufactures a wide range of steel products for the construction, automotive, industrial machinery, oil, and gas industries. As the agency investigation at Pittsburgh coke production facility shows, seven workers have been previously put at risk this year, in February and March 2016.
Breathing airborne asbestos fibers causes scarring of the lungs. Over time, this damage causes cellular changes that lead to cancer and other severe illnesses. Christopher Robinson, director of OSHA's Pittsburgh Area Office declared they have found that U.S. Steel Corp. once again exposed its employees to asbestos. U.S. Steel Corp. was fined $170,000 for the identified 10 violations.
"Once again, we have found U.S. Steel Corp. failed to protect its employees from the serious risks of asbestos exposure. Breathing airborne asbestos fibers can cause lung damage that often progresses to disability and possible death. Given the potential danger to the health of its workers, the company must take immediate steps needed to avoid its employees' prolonged exposure to asbestos." - stated Christopher Robinson, OSHA's Pittsburgh Area Office director
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has found that on at least two occasions within a month United States Steel Corp. gave seven of its employees' hazardous tasks. Specifically, those workers were given certain tasks, unknowingly exposing them to asbestos. As a widely recognized hazardous mineral, asbestos is associated with health risks like mesothelioma and lung cancer. In Pittsburgh, at the company's coke production facility, some employees were given hazardous tasks at the direction of the company. They were assigned to remove and replace packing material containing asbestos in the beginning of February 2016. OSHA found that in the next month, two other employees had to remove an old, damaged section of expansion asbestos pipe.
This is not the first time that OSHA has cited U.S. Steel Corp., the company has previous records for exposing employees to asbestos hazards (in 2011). This time, OSHA inspectors responded to an employee complaint and started a second inspection in March 2016.
Inspectors noted the US Steel company failed again, as it did in 2011, to take some necessary actions. They were supposed to inform employees of the presence of asbestos-containing material. Also, the firm had the obligation to make a first employee monitoring and to ensure a negative exposure assessment. Specific engineering controls should have been implemented and the supervising of a designated qualified person. Moreover, in the maintenance and repair operations, the company failed to use compressed air properly. Employees were not provided training about safe containment and disposal methods.
US Steel can contest the accusations before the OSHA Review Commission or comply with the proposed penalties in 15 business days.