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Indiana Company Appeals Mill Death Fine

Thu, 03/27/2014 - 10:38am
Associated Press

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (AP) — A Gary construction company plans to appeal a proposed state fine of $3,500 for allegedly not alerting employees to unsafe conditions before a nearly 4-ton steel plate fell, killing one worker and injuring two others, a company official said Wednesday.

The Indiana Occupational Health and Safety Administration issued a safety order March 11 citing Pangere Corp. for a serious violation for either not warning employees they were working in front of an unsecured, 7,300-pound steel plate or for not providing safe working conditions.

"It's under review, and we will be appealing. We disagree with their findings," Pangere Vice President Bill Rathjen said in a telephone interview.

The plate fell Nov. 13 at ArcelorMittal's sprawling steelmaking complex in East Chicago, killing 39-year-old Michael Samuelson, of Valparaiso, and injuring two other workers.

The Lake County Coroner's Office ruled Samuelson died from blunt force trauma and that the death was accidental.

"Our hearts still go out to the families of all our employees that were involved," Rathjen said.

IOSHA said Samuelson and two co-workers were removing steel plates and were working in front of the plate that fell, trying to free a chain, when the accident occurred.

Pangere has 15 days to appeal the penalty, IOSHA said, but it was unclear when that period began.

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