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OSHA Proposes Fining AK Steel $1 Million For Fatal Mill Accident

April 3, 1996

CINCINNATI (AP) _ AK Steel Corp. should be fined the maximum $1 million for 19 alleged safety violations discovered after an accident last fall that killed one worker and burned two others, the government said Tuesday.

AK Steel said it will challenge the allegations, 14 of which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration classified as ``willful,″ the most severe infraction in which a company knows of a violation that could cause injury or death.

The violations were found after an Oct. 4 accident in which three workers were burned, one fatally, while fixing equipment that feeds molten iron into the continuous casting area at the Middletown Works.

AK Steel violated OSHA regulations that require employers to ensure that equipment is disconnected from power and determined to be inoperative before repair or maintenance takes place, said William Murphy, director of OSHA’s Cincinnati regional office.

OSHA is still investigating a Dec. 5 accident when 14 workers were injured at the Middletown plant by an explosion of a blast furnace gas pipeline, Murphy said.

``AK Steel has a terrible safety and health record, with eight workers killed in the Middletown Works since October 1993,″ said Assistant Labor Secretary Joseph Dear, who oversees OSHA. ``Hopefully, imposing these penalties will help turn AK Steel around and put it on the path to a safe workplace.″

OSHA fined the company $212,700 for safety violations between April 1994 and September 1995.

In January, AK Steel hired James W. Stanley, then an OSHA deputy assistant secretary, as vice president of safety and health, a new position.

AK Steel, the nation’s seventh-largest steelmaker, has 5,700 employees in offices and mills in Middletown and Ashland, Ky. The company makes flat-rolled steel, mainly for use in cars and appliances.

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