An investigation has been launched into the death of a 56-year-old steel plant worker at Gerdau Ameristeel plant in Knoxville. According to the Knoxville Police Department, the man was working in a storage area when a hanging pallet with bags of sand-like material collapsed onto him. The material weighed two tons. The worker was pronounced dead on the scene.
The Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) arrived that day to conduct an investigation. The plant, which melts down steel, has had run-ins with TOSHA before. In 2014, a blast occurred that killed one steel plant worker and injured five others while they were melting scrap metal. TOSHA fined the plant $8,400 for two serious safety violations that caused the blast and was directed to install monitoring equipment to prevent future explosions.
How Can Steel Plant Workers Stay Safe?
According to TOSHA, most workplace accidents are preventable if the proper safety procedures and regulations are complied with. The steel industry is a staple of mass production in many other industries, such as shipbuilding, construction, shipbuilding, industrial equipment and more. That said, it is important that employers do everything they can to keep the workers of such a valuable industry safe, including:
- Isolate and lock all energy sources before machinery is accessed
- Ensuring regular inspections are in place to remove or secure objects that are a falling object risk
- Install and maintain sensors to test for atmospheric conditions that can cause asphyxiation
- Inspect cranes daily before using them to ensure safe operation
- Provide proper training on equipment, safety hazards and evacuation plans
The steel industry involves very large amounts of material that is processed and transported by even larger equipment. Typically, when standard safety procedures are not complied with, the consequences are unforgiving and serious accidents can occur. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure workers are operating in a safe working environment.
“I can do all things through he who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13