Bethlehem Steel fined $15,000 in fatal mishap

March 07, 1995|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Sun Staff Writer

Bethlehem Steel Corp. has been fined $15,000 by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration in connection with a fatal accident at the company's Sparrows Point shipyard in January.

In citations released yesterday, OSHA charged Bethlehem with three serious violations, each carrying a fine of $5,000. The company has the options of paying the fines, appealing them to an administrative law judge or seeking a reduction through an informal conference with the agency, said Kate Dugan, a spokeswoman for OSHA's regional office in Philadelphia.

"We're saying the employer should have recognized a hazard," Ms. Dugan said.

George W. Baier, 59, sustained head and internal injuries on Jan. 26 when he was hit by a thick towing line, which pushed him into an anchor chain. He was working on the floor of a dry dock where the barge Adelaide was being repaired.

He was taken by helicopter to the Shock Trauma Unit at the University of Maryland Hospital, where he died Jan. 30.

The towing line, which is 200 feet long and weighs 684 pounds, was being lowered from the deck of the barge when the men handling the line lost control of it, Ms. Dugan said. Steel attachments to the line hit Mr. Baier and an unidentified man, who was slightly injuried.

In its three categories of violations, a serious citation is the second most severe penalty OSHA can bring. The most serious is a "willful" violation and the least serious is "other than serious," she said.

Serious violation fines can range from $1,000 to $7,000, Ms. Dugan said.

The violations included not having adequately trained supervisors and employees to handle the hazard of lowering a tow line by hand, having employees working below when the line was lowered and not giving sufficient warning to the workers below.

The safety violations were corrected by Bethlehem at the time of the inspection, the citations said.

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