OSHA beefs up steel mill inspections

Post-Tribune (Northwest Indiana)

Indiana’s Commissioner of Labor Miguel R. Rivera is beefing up inspections at local steel mills after a man was killed at Beta Steel on Friday and three workers were injured at U.S. Steel’s Gary Works on Monday.

Five men have died in Northwest Indiana’s steel mills in less than a year. In the most recent accident, William “Bill� Maffitt died Friday when he was cleaning a furnace byproduct from Beta Steel in the company’s collection hopper.

“These two incidents are right on the heels of one another,’’ Rivera said. “I’m not going to wait around for something else to occur.�

Steel and union officials contacted Tuesday said they welcome the beefed-up inspections, noting safety is a major concern for them as well.

This week, the United Steel Workers released a report showing that work-related accidents nearly quadrupled from 13 in 2003 to 51 in 2004. And on Monday and Tuesday, union workers and managers discussed ways to improve safety during the United Steelworkers’ annual health and safety conference.

Rivera said 2003 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that one-third of deaths at steel plants across the country occurred in Indiana.

Contrast this with reaction to safety concerns in China, for example …

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