ST. LOUIS — Two years after a worker died by electrocution at a steel plant owned by St. Louis Cold Drawn, inspectors from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found the company continues to expose its workforce, predominantly consisting of Asian immigrants with limited English speaking skills, to amputation, electrical and other hazards daily.
During the investigation, one worker alleged that management fired him after he spoke to OSHA officials, and another said the company terminated him for alerting management to safety hazards. The agency has opened a whistleblower investigation.
"Any hazards at the company are inexcusable, especially following OSHA's intervention after a worker died by electrocution in 2013," said Bill McDonald, OSHA's area director in St. Louis. "St. Louis Cold Drawn continues to exploit its non-English-proficient workforce by exposing them to unsafe working conditions. The company needs to make fundamental workplace changes to comply with the law and protect employees."
OSHA's investigation also found that in September 2013, a non-English-speaking production line operator suffered the amputation of his finger because the machine lacked adequate guarding. In 2014, another worker experienced severe lacerations when he touched moving machine parts.
Agency inspectors found numerous violations, including the following:
- Inadequate machine safety guards.
- Insufficient crane inspections.
- Workers exposed to machines operating during service and maintenance.
- Faulty head protection.
- Hot work conducted near combustible materials.
- Multiple electrical safety hazards.
- Workers exposed to fall hazards due to lack of stair rails and uncovered pits.
- Improperly stored compressed gas and oxygen cylinders.
- Blocked exits.
- Unsanitary conditions.
- Accumulating explosive dust.
View current citations here.
St. Louis Cold Drawn employs approximately 90 workers and has a second facility in Mexico. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Want to learn more about Whistle Blower Protection? See our article OSHA Announces Final Rule on Procedures for Handling Retaliation Compliants Under Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
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