Post-Tribune (Northwest Indiana)
Indianaâ€™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. Steelâ€™s Gary Works on Monday.
Five men have died in Northwest Indianaâ€™s steel mills in less than a year. In the most recent accident, William â€œBillâ€� Maffitt died Friday when he was cleaning a furnace byproduct from Beta Steel in the companyâ€™s collection hopper.
â€œThese two incidents are right on the heels of one another,â€™â€™ Rivera said. â€œIâ€™m not going to wait around for something else to occur.â€�
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 Steelworkersâ€™ 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 …