Two workers still recovering after accident at Indiana Harbor West

2013-11-15T19:15:00Z 2013-11-15T22:44:18Z Two workers still recovering after accident at Indiana Harbor WestJoseph S. Pete, (219) 933-3316
November 15, 2013 7:15 pm  • 

EAST CHICAGO | Two contractors who were injured during a fatal accident at an East Chicago steel mill remain hospitalized.

A basic oxygen furnace shield fell onto three Pangere Corp. contractors at the ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor West steel mill early Wednesday morning.

The contractors had been working at the No. 3 production shop in what had once been the LTV steel mill at Indiana Harbor, Pangere Vice President Bill Rathjen said.

A falling metal plate killed Michael Samuelson, a 39-year-old Valparaiso resident, and hurt two other contractors. They were taken to St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago, where they were in stable condition as of Friday afternoon, Rathjen said.

Their injuries are not considered life-threatening, but they were not yet in any condition to tell supervisors at Pangere what happened and went wrong, he said.

"Our sympathy goes to the families as well as all the employees," Rathjen said. "Everyone's hurting from this."

Officials from ArcelorMittal and the United Steelworkers union have launched a joint investigation.

"The people involved were ironworkers, not steelworkers, but whenever a fatality happens, it doesn't matter if you're a steelworker, an ironworker or non-union at that point," said Jim Robinson, director of USW District 7 out of Gary. "It's a tragedy for everybody."

Robinson said the investigation would be thorough and could result in corrective action, such as new workplace safety guidelines.

The East Chicago Police Department and the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration also are conducting separate investigations into the accident.

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