EAST CHICAGO | A 33-year-old Union Township man was killed in an accident in the finishing department of ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor East late Wednesday night, officials said Thursday.
Jason Ham, of the 500 block of Remington Road, was pronounced dead at the scene at 10:58 p.m., a Lake County coroner's office spokesman said. The cause of death was listed as blunt force trauma.
"A joint (United Steelworkers) and management investigation was immediately launched into the cause of the incident, but we are unable to provide additional details about the incident at this time," a spokeswoman for ArcelorMittal said in a statement released Thursday morning.
"The appropriate regulatory agencies have been notified. ArcelorMittal expresses our sincere condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of the deceased."
Ham was a 1995 graduate of Wheeler High School and a lifelong Porter County resident, according to Lakeshore Public Television. He had two children, ages 11 and 9, and was recently engaged to be married, the station said.
United Steelworkers Local 1010 President Tom Hargrove said Ham was a maintenance mechanic, and the union is still working to figure out what happened and how to avoid the accident from happening again.
"Anytime anything like this happens there's concern for the person and family," Hargrove said. The incident happened at the No. 3 cold strip mill.
Marc Lotter, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Labor, confirmed Thursday morning that the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the fatality.
It is unclear whether production will be impacted as a result of the accident and investigation, but a company spokeswoman said no problems meeting customer demand are anticipated.
The fatality was the first at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor East in 15 months. Angela Smith, 37, of Merrillville, died July 26, 2009, of blunt force trauma while she was working in the 80-inch hot strip mill. Smith was sorting slabs for lineup in the No. 4 slab yard when she was struck by a gantry crane.
IOSHA fined ArcelorMittal $12,250 after the agency found four serious violations in connection with the investigation of Smith's death. The company paid the fine and has since abated the violations.