A freak accident led to the death of a truck driver who was in Pueblo at the EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel Mill on Jan. 4 to pick up a load for transport.
The victim was identified as James Fiddler, 55, of Tennessee, according to Pueblo County Coroner Brian Cotter. Fiddler was at the mill picking up a load when he fell off the semi-truck bed, according to Eric Ludwig, president of the United Steelworkers 2102 Union in Pueblo.
Fiddler was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, Cotter reported. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death.
“We are saddened to report that a fatality of a third-party contractor has occurred at our Pueblo facility. We are working with OSHA and the primary employer to investigate this matter,” said Annie Stefanec, director of communications for EVRAZ North America.
“Our deepest condolences go out to the family during this difficult time,” Stefanec said.
Event marks second accident at EVRAZ in the past year
The recent incident at EVRAZ marks the second accident involving injuries at the mill in less than a year. On May 29, an explosion in the arc furnace sent eight employees to the hospital for treatment.
The explosion occurred in an electric arc furnace at about 5 p.m. on May 29. David Light, vice president of operations at the Pueblo location, told The Pueblo Chieftain at the time he believed the eruption was caused by water getting into the electrical furnace, causing pressure to build and ultimately erupt.
“There was water under the steel from a water leak,” Ludwig explained. “We’ve learned a lot from this incident and taken steps to make it better.”
An OSHA “final order” report issued Dec. 8 said: “On or about May 29, 2021, and at times prior, employees were exposed to thermal and struck by hazards and the employer failed to identify and guard the hazard zone around the #5 electric arc furnace, allowing workers to enter hazardous areas including the front of the slag door of the furnace.
“The hazard zone on and around the furnace was not clearly marked and there were no physical guards to prevent workers from entering the furnace area during operations,” according to the report.
A corrective action worksheet was completed by OSHA officials. The report indicated three serious violations were found and the company was fined $40,959 as part of an initial penalty as part of an informal settlement.
Chieftain reporter Tracy Harmon covers business news. She can be reached by email at email@example.com or via Twitter at twitter.com/tracywumps.
This article originally appeared on The Pueblo Chieftain: Trucker killed in accidental fall at EVRAZ steel mill in Pueblo