OSHA has investigated Middletown Works five times in the last five years

Steel company has been fined $70,000 for two injury incidents, according to records.

MIDDLETOWN — A Butler County steel plant where a maintenance worker was killed Tuesday morning has been investigated by Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials five times since 2017, according to records obtained by this news agency.

OSHA found no violations following two of those investigations, and one investigation that opened July 19, 2022, is incomplete.

AK Steel, now owned by Cleveland-Cliffs, was fined more than $70,000 for two violations in 2017 and 2019, according to OSHA records.

On Tuesday, a worker performing planned maintenance was killed at Middletown Works, said Patricia Persico, a spokesperson with Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.

The man’s identity and cause of death have not been released by the Butler County Coroner’s Office. An autopsy was performed Wednesday, according to officials. The man’s wife was notified about his death, but she hasn’t been told the results of the autopsy, officials said.

It was the first fatality at the Middletown plant since 2013, according to Shawn Coffey, president of IAM Local 1943. He called the fatality “an unfortunate accident.”

OSHA is investigating the accident and it has up to six months to complete its report, said Scott Allen, regional director of public affairs.

“The company sends its deepest sympathies to the families and they are providing support,” Cleveland-Cliffs said in a statement.

The Middletown Works plant is operated by Cleveland-Cliffs, also referred to as Cliffs. According to the company, the facility is “an integrated steel operation with carbon steel melting, casting, hot- and cold-rolling and finishing operations.”

The two fines are tied to violations in 2017 and 2019, according to OSHA records.

On the morning of Dec. 22, 2017, an employee was adjusting a bearing plate which caused the hot roller to shift and come into contact with water, according to the OHSA report reviewed by the media outlet.

The employee received third-degree burns on his abdomen and arms when steam shot through a roller coolant hole and struck the employee.

The company was cited for five penalties and fined $60,374.

Less than two years later, on Aug. 20, 2019, an employee was performing maintenance on a de-gasser vessel, according to the OHSA report. The work platform raised up, and the employee’s foot was caught in a pinch point. The employee suffered loss of some bone on his toe and severe avulsion and was treated without hospitalization. AK Steel was fined $9,661.

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