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State, company investigating death of contractor at Gary Works

State, company investigating death of contractor at Gary Works

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Company fined $7,000 after death of father of three at Gary Works steel mill

Frank Freer, a 46-year-old resident of Pontiac, Illinois, was killed in a fall at the Gary Works steel mill in April.

The state of Indiana, U.S. Steel and the contractor KM Plant services are investigating the death of a contractor at the Gary Works steel mill last week.

Frank Freer, a 46-year-old resident of Pontiac, Illinois, died after a fall while he was doing routine cleaning at the steel mill on the Lake Michigan lakeshore. Freer, a widower and father of three who was engaged to be married again, worked as a hydroblaster for KM Plant Services.

UPDATE: Worker who fell to death at U.S. Steel Gary Works identified

"KM Plant Services is deeply saddened to announce that Frank Freer, a member of the hydroblasting crew, passed away after being injured from a fall at the U.S. Steel Gary Works facility on Wednesday, April 8th," KM Plant Services' Will Colon said. "Frank was a highly valued member of the team and had been with the company for 20 years. We offer our deepest condolences to his family and friends."

The Indiana Department of Labor's Occupational Health and Safety Administration has opened an investigation into the death to see, among other things, if any unsafe working conditions contributed to the tragedy.

"The company is conducting an investigation of the incident and is also cooperating with investigations being conducted by US Steel and OSHA," Colon said. "Safety of our workforce is our highest priority and we remain committed to providing the safest and healthiest workplace for our employees."

KM Plant Services is a Houston-based industrial cleaning services contractor with a local office in Highland serving the heavy industry along Northwest Indiana's lakeshore.

Steelworkers average 29.8 deaths per 100,000 workers, making it one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

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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.

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