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Published: 8/28/2012

OSHA sets $66,000 fine for local steel firm

Precision is accused of 11 safety violations

BLADE STAFF

A Toledo firm that cuts, finishes, and machines steel has been levied a proposed fine of $66,330 by federal safety officials after allegedly committing 11 safety violations, including a repeat offense during an inspection at its local plant.

Precision Steel Services Inc. of 31 E. Sylvania Ave. was cited on Aug. 20 by the Toledo office of the Occupational Health & Safety Administration for nine violations in the "serious" category, including failing to protect workers from falls on elevated work spaces, not providing lockout/tagout procedures, not properly inspecting forklifts, not ensuring forklift brakes were set when parked, not providing electrical safe work training, and not utilizing electrical personal protective equipment.

The company also was cited for a "repeat" violation -- failing to remove from service a forklift that was in need of repair.

It also was cited for an "other-than-serious" violation for failing to mark lockout/tagout devices with an employee identifier.

OSHA officials said the steel processor has had five previous safety inspections, three of which occurred since 2009 and resulted in citations for seven "serious" violations involving personal protective equipment, forklifts, mechanical equipment in disrepair, and a lack of guarding on portable power tools.

A "repeat" violation is issued when an employer has been cited for the same or a similar violation within the last five years. OSHA said Precision Steel Services had similar violations cited in 2009 at its E. Sylvania facility, which is why the "repeat" violation was issued.

"OSHA takes all safety and health violations very seriously," Kimberly Nelson, OSHA's area director in Toledo, said in a statement. "However, repeat violations, in particular, indicate a lack of commitment to these issues, and OSHA will hold employers responsible to ensure that workers are protected from preventable hazards."

David Kelley, president of Precision Steel Services, said the company is contesting the proposed fine and citations, and already has scheduled an informal conference with OSHA officials to do so before an independent OSHA review commission. "We certainly do intend to contest this," Mr. Kelley said. "It's important to note that [the $66,330] is just a proposed penalty."

One citation, for which the company was levied a proposed fine of $13,800, was for a forklift whose horn was inoperative, he said. "To me, that's overkill," Mr. Kelley said.

-- Jon Chavez



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