Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Indiana Harbor Steelworker dies of scald injuries from February accident

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A United Steelworker scalded on Feb. 8 at ArcelorMittal’s Indiana Harbor facility has succumbed to his injuries.

Robert “Lane” Watts, 62, of Westville, died at 7:28 a.m. Friday, March 21, at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Watts’ death as accidental and listed the cause as complications from thermal injuries.

Although the Post-Tribune originally reported--on Tuesday--that the accident occurred at ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor facility, Paul Gipson, president of USW Local 6787, told the Chesterton Tribune today that Watts in fact was injured at Indiana Harbor in East Chicago.

The Post-Tribune silently corrected that mistake in a follow-up story in today’s edition.

An investigation conducted by union and management has determined preliminarily that, at 5:45 p.m. Feb. 8, Watts and a coworker were putting a brine pump into service at the West Boiler House Water Treatment Facility, when Watts fell into a sink hole first noticed in December and caused by a leaking line from the adjacent lift pit, which receives blow-down water from the boilers and water treatment.

That sink hole was located between the lift pit and the brine tank.

The coworker advised investigators that as he and Watts exited the building their vision was limited because it was dark and “a large amount of steam was evolving off the pit.”

There were barriers in place prior to the accident, according to investigation documents.

ArcelorMittal released the following statement today to the Chesterton Tribune:

“Lane was an experienced, dedicated, and knowledgeable employee who will be greatly missed by his coworkers. The ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor facility expresses our deepest sympathy to Lane’s family and friends.

“A joint investigation of the accident was launched immediately by management and union officials. Indiana OSHA is also investigating and we are cooperating fully with that agency.

“The health and safety or our employees is our No. 1 priority.”

 

 

Posted 3/26/2014