A 65-year-old man was working on a piece of machinery when he became caught on a rotating piece of steel bar stock moving at a “high speed,” according to federal authorities.
After the worker became caught on the “bar straightener machine” at an Ohio steel mill, officials say he died of “crushing injuries.”
Nearly six months after the man was fatally caught on Dec. 27, the U.S Department of Labor has cited TimkenSteel in Canton.
“A worker’s life might have been spared if TimkenSteel safeguarded dangerous machinery as required by law,” Occupational Safety and Health Administration Area Director Howard Eberts said in a news release. “This company identified the safety issue that exposed workers using this machine to serious hazards but failed to make it safe.”
During an inspection of the steel mill’s Gambrinus facility, inspectors say they found that TimkenSteel provided hooks that employees could use to work with the spinning steel bar stock. But the hooks weren’t long enough, so employees had to have their hands “in the machine’s danger zone” to guide stock into the straightener.
“OSHA learned that Timken Steel previously modified similar machinery by adding a mechanical feed roll unit that eliminated the need for workers to touch the rotating bar stock but canceled a plan to modify the machine involved in the fatal incident,” according to the June 22 news release.
TimkenSteel did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News on June 23.
The steel mill faces $315,952 in penalties after four OSHA violations were found during the inspection.
Because OSHA has now cited the Ohio company three times in five years, authorities say TimkenSteel has been placed in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. This program “concentrates resources on inspecting employers who have demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations by willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.”
TimkenSteel has 15 business days from when it was notified of the citations to either comply, request a meeting with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings.
TimkenSteel employs 1,800 workers, the Labor Department says, and is “a leading producer of carbon steel, alloy and micro-alloy steel in specialty bars, mechanical tubing and other products used in the automotive, industrial and energy markets.”