Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Fraser Shipyards worker, Joseph Burch, has died two months after suffering injuries on the job

April 10, 2017 10:19 PM

A Fraser Shipyards worker has died two months after suffering injuries on the job, an incident that has led to new citations from federal regulators.

Fifty-three-year-old Joseph Burch was injured at the shipyard in February while working on the Roger Blough. Family members tell Eyewitness News Burch never recovered and lost his life due to the severe burns he sustained that day.

Fraser Shipyards is potentially facing $12,548 in fines after an investigation into the incident by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Fraser Shipyards is facing potential new fines after an incident that led to a worker's death.

The agency has issued two citations for what it called serious violations: allegedly allowing holes and frayed fabric in protective clothing worn while performing hot work, and allegedly allowing employees to work without wearing fire retardant jackets and coveralls while using a hand-held torch.

OSHA says the employees were not adequately protected from molten metal, sparks, fire or flame. The agency says at least one of the violations was corrected during their inspection.

A U.S. Department of Labor spokesperson said the case is not yet closed. As allowed by OSHA rules, Fraser Shipyards has requested an informal conference to review the matter.

A Fraser spokesperson said the company is still reviewing the details with OSHA. Fraser does have the right to contest the citations and/or the fines, but there's no word yet if they will do that.

James Farkas, President and Chief Operating Officer of Fraser Industries, issued a statement saying the company is saddened to learn of Burch's death.

"We wish to extend our condolences and deepest sympathies to his family and friends. Mr. Burch worked for more than 22 years with the Fraser team. All of us at Fraser are thinking about him and those who loved him at this time of loss," Farkas sad.

Burch was a member of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 117 and a longtime boilermaker team member at Fraser.

In a separate case, Fraser agreed earlier this year to pay $700,000 to settle an OSHA investigation into lead exposure at the shipyard. 


Fraser Shipyards Reaches Settlement with OSHA

January 05, 2017 08:14 PM

Fraser Shipyards in Superior says it's reached an agreement with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to improve worker safety and reduce a proposed fine.

Last summer, OSHA proposed a fine of nearly $1.4 million because Fraser employees had been exposed to lead from paint and other sources while refurbishing the Great Lakes freighter Herbert C. Jackson.

Fraser said in a statement Thursday that it does not admit to fault or liability in the case, but will implement a new safety plan at the 126-year-old company and pay a $700,000 fine.

Fraser Shipyards has reached an agreement to reduce a federal fine by implementing a new safety plan.
WDIO-TV file

The plan includes putting in place a new health and safety management program as well as additional worker protections, submit regular OSHA inspections and meeting regularly with OSHA to review improvements and issues over the next 3 years.

In a news release, James Farkas, President of Fraser Industries said "We appreciate the opportunity to work with OSHA and respect their oversight as well as our joint commitment to the health and safety of all workers at Fraser"

He added, "This agreement, reached with input from unions representing workers at Fraser, ensures that we can move forward with a strong commitment to employee protection"

OSHA Area Director, Mark Kysell was not available for an interview Thursday because they had not yet received the order from the judge but did say he looked forward to working with Fraser over the next 3 years.

This winter, Fraser will be doing work on all nine of the boats in the port. Two of the nine will be docked directly at Fraser during their lay-ups.

Fraser officials declined to our requests for interviews since the story broke and declined again Thursday.

Fraser Shipyards is the last major, independent shipyard on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes.