Investigators: Workers were not warned before fatal mill accident

2014-03-26T13:00:00Z 2014-03-26T22:28:05Z Investigators: Workers were not warned before fatal mill accidentJoseph S. Pete joseph.pete@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 nwitimes.com

GARY | A state investigation has found a Gary company committed a serious safety violation in an accident that killed an ironworker and injured two others in November.

Pangere Corp. failed to warn the late Michael Samuelson, and two other contractors, about workplace hazards before a 3.65-ton steel plate fell on them at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor West in East Chicago on Nov. 13, the Indiana Occupational Health and Safety Administration found.

The stage agency has fined Pangere Corp. $3,500 for the fatal accident.

Pangene Corp. vice president Bill Rathjen said the company disagreed with the finding, and would appeal.

Samuelson, a 39-year-old Valparaiso resident, and two other workers had been removing steel plates at the No. 2 rubble pit at the No. 3 blast oxygen furnace at the steel mill. They were trying to free a chain fall hoist in front of an unsecured 7,300-pound plate, which fell on them. 

Samuelson died of blunt force trauma, and the two other ironworkers suffered injuries that were not considered life-threatening.

"The employer did not instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to his/her environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to injury or illness," according to the safety order.

An alternative violation would be that Pangere Corp. did not create a safe work environment, IOHSA investigators found.

"The employer did not establish or maintain conditions of work which were reasonably safe and healthful for employees, and free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees in that employees were exposed to working in front of an unsecured 7,300-pound steel plate to free a chain fall and the plate fell," according to the safety order.

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