May 1, 2014
By Neal Tepel
Pittsburgh, Penn. – The United Steelworkers (USW) have praised an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) settlement agreement with Republic Steel and commended both the company and the agency for reaching it. The settlement covers a series of 2013-2014 OSHA citations in Republic’s plants in Canton, Massillon, and Lorain Ohio, and in Blasdell, New York.
The settlement includes a very comprehensive injury and illness prevention program that goes far beyond simple compliance with OSHA standards. Under the program, Republic and the USW will work together to find and fix workplace hazards. The program will be overseen by strengthened joint safety and health committees in the plants and by a high-level Executive Steering Committee made up of union and company leaders and safety experts. Frequent safety inspections will be performed by the joint committees and by independent outside auditors. There are defined procedures for promptly addressing hazards. Additional safety personnel are required. Safety performance will be built into management evaluations and compensation based on hazards found and corrected. There are specific provisions for the maintenance of safety-critical equipment and for specific issues such as lockout/tagout and fall protection.
The USW was involved in the settlement negotiations, which took place over a period of almost seven months.
“This is a terrific agreement, and it clearly shows the value of strong OSHA enforcement,” said David McCall, director of USW District 1 in Ohio and chair of the union’s Republic Steel bargaining committee. “We commend both OSHA and Republic for their willingness to work toward a settlement that puts the safety and health of Republic employees first. This new program gives us the tools to correct problems and creates a model system for preventing injuries and illnesses. It will lead to a safer company and to a stronger one.”
The agreement, which will take effect on May 1, was signed on April 28, widely recognized as Workers’ Memorial Day, and the anniversary of the date that the Occupational Safety and Health Act took effect in 1971.