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ArcelorMittal fined $14,000 for worker's death at Indiana Harbor steel mill

A train carrying molten iron passes in front of Blast Furnace No. 7 at ArcelorMittal in East Chicago. A steelworker was killed in a train accident at the steel mill on April 2. The state found serious safety violations took place and fined the steelmaker $14,000.

Indiana has fined ArcelorMittal $14,000 after the death of a steelworker in a fatal train accident at the ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor steel mill in East Chicago in April.

Railroad operator Edwin L. Fleming, a 49-year-old Schererville man who had worked at the mill for nearly 17 years, was killed at the Indiana Harbor’s No. 7 blast furnace raw materials yard on April 2 when the engine he was operating struck a railcar on an adjacent track.

The Indiana Department of Labor Occupational Health and Safety Administration found two serious safety violations took place and fined the company $7,000 for each.

"The employer did not establish and 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 crush hazards," the state agency said in a safety order. "Employees were exposed to struck-by and caught-between injuries when indexing railcars."

State inspectors suggested that ArcelorMittal correct the hazard by following rail safety procedures, assessing operating switches before throwing them, and providing "employees with training on the requirements of the rail safety program and specific operating procedures for the department."

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Under Indiana law, ArcelorMittal has 15 days to pay the fine unless it chooses to contest the safety order.

“ArcelorMittal has robust programs in place within all U.S. operations to address workplace exposures in compliance with OSHA standard," ArcelorMittal spokesman William Steers said. "While we cannot comment on the specifics of this pending matter, we are working with IOSHA to resolve the citations.”

Fleming's death was the 392nd fatal workplace accident at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor East in East Chicago, formerly the Inland Steel mill, but the first at the steel mill since 2017. The company said it would investigate what happened along with the United Steelworkers union and take steps to try to prevent similar deadly accidents in the future.

An East Chicago native and East Chicago Central High School graduate, Fleming was a U.S. Army veteran who left behind a wife and two children. He had worked in the raw materials yard since 2007 and his obituary described him as a "prompt and reliable employee."

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.