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WEATHERSFIELD Inspectors allege RMI violated safety rules

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The case remains open to give the company time to contest the citations.
WEATHERSFIELD -- Federal safety inspectors have filed two citations against RMI Titanium since the company locked out its unionized workers four months ago and assigned salaried employees to run the plant.
U.S. Department of Labor records indicate the citations, both labeled serious, were filed in January against the titanium mill. Department records indicate the citations are the first filed against RMI since 1998.
RMI officials did not return calls requesting comment.
Department of Labor investigators recommended that RMI be ordered to remedy some of the safety violations and pay penalties totaling $2,000, according to department records.
The case is still open, however, said Darlene Fossum, assistant area director of safety for the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration office in Cleveland, so the citations and penalties could be revised. She said companies are given time to contest citations after they are issued.
In one citation, inspectors listed six areas in the plant where machine guards were not adequate to protect machine operators and others from hazards such as "nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and parts."
In some cases, the guard was not secured and was easily removable, the inspectors wrote; in one case, there was no protective guard at all, and in another case, the mesh on a guard was broken. Inspectors have recommended that the guard problems be remedied by March 6 and that RMI be required to pay $1,250 for the violations.
The second citation alleges a web sling with snags, punctures, tears or cuts was not immediately removed from service, and in another case, a web sling with torn stitching was not removed from service. Inspectors have not yet recommended a date by which the slings must be repaired or replaced, but they recommended a penalty of $750.
Fossum said no other information was available on what led to the citations.
Managers and other salaried workers have been operating the plant since Oct. 26, the day after members of United Steelworkers of America Locals 2155 and 2155-7 rejected a contract offer from the company. The unions represent about 380 production workers, clerical and technical workers.
Union leaders did not return calls requesting comment on the citations.