AK suspends 11 workers in deathBy Thomas Gnau, Journal
Business Writer, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
AK Steel Corp. has suspended 11 workers — including five who are
subject to possible discharge — in the wake of an overhead crane
accident that killed a worker last month at AK’s Middletown Works, a
union chief confirmed Tuesday.
When contacted by The Journal Tuesday, Ed Shelley, president of
Armco Employees Independent Federation, confirmed the suspensions
and said those affected have union and company grievance procedures
available to them. Appeal hearings for four of the five workers
subject to possible discharge were already held Tuesday, Shelley
Shelley, head of the union that represents more than 3,000 AK
workers in Middletown, contends the discipline is inappropriate.
“These guys will relive that accident for the rest of their
lives,” he said.
And he called the action “premature.”
“I don’t think all the investigation is completed,” he said.
Some of the workers were escorted from company property late last
week, when union officials learned of the discipline, Shelley said.
Shelley said he learned of another suspension Monday.
Besides the five facing possible discharges, six workers received
unpaid suspensions for varying numbers of days, Shelley also said.
On July 10, the lifting block of an overhead crane in the plant’s
annealing area fell on a forklift, killing the forklift operator,
Waynesville resident Ralph Eric Jones, 41. No one else was hurt.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, AK and
the AEIF have been investigating.
Since July 10, Richard Gilgrist, head of the Cincinnati-area OSHA
office, has expressed concern with how many people at the time of
the accident were in the “immediate vicinity” of the crane, on which
maintenance was being performed.
Gilgrist also has said the operator of the overhead crane could
not see how close the lower crane block was getting to the crane’s
Gilgrist could not be reached for comment Tuesday. He said last
week that he could offer no conclusions about what caused the
AK Vice President of Public Affairs Alan McCoy declined comment
Shelley declined to offer details about the workers affected and
the reasons being offered for their discipline.
“I can only say it was related to the crane accident, from their
(the company’s) perspective,” Shelley said.
“I’m sure there’s going to be litigation,” he added, declining to
AK has more than 10,000 employees in several states, including
about 4,000 in Middletown.