April 17, 2014

Elyria
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Republic Steel worker who fell through roof improving

LORAIN — A Republic Steel worker injured in a fall Thursday is improving.

John Evanish, 50, was upgraded from critical to fair condition Tuesday at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, according to hospital spokeswoman Tina Shaerban-Arundel.

Evanish, a mechanic and maintenance technician who began working at the plant in July, fell about 40 feet through a roof around 2 p.m. Thursday, said David Bascone, Republic’s director of administration. The fall occurred at the billet caster water treatment building, which Bascone said is about 40 years old.

The injury came as Republic is trying to improve communication with workers from United Steelworkers Local 1104 to reduce accidents, a Republic official said Monday.

“We’re basically doing our best every day to make sure the guys that are coming in here are going home safely and intact,” David Bascone said Monday. “It’s an extremely dangerous industry that we work in and we just have to do our best every day to make sure that we’re keeping our eyes and ears open and doing what we can to be in safe environment.”

The accident is under investigation by the Toledo office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Kymberly Nelson, Toledo office director, said Tuesday the investigation will be concluded within six months. The maximum penalty Republic could face for a single violation is $70,000 if the violation was deemed willful.

Republic — whose website said it makes $1 billion in annual sales — was fined $235,000 last year by OSHA for violations at the plant, including failure to protect workers from fall hazards and unsafe procedures involving hazardous equipment.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.