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King Systems, Steel Dynamics fined over safety violations

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The Indiana Department of Labor has slapped two Indiana companies with fines of about $200,000 each for repeated safety violations that put workers at risk.

The department hit Noblesville-based King Systems Corp. with a $191,000 fine for repeatedly failing to mitigate employees' exposure to dangerous gases, and assessed Fort Wayne-based Steel Dynamics Inc. a $240,000 fine for safety program shortcomings that led to a fatality at the company's plant in Jeffersonville.

Carbon steel products maker Steel Dynamics is the sixth-largest public company in the state. King Systems manufactures anesthesia and respiratory care products.

The fines are the largest the department has issued since it fined oil giant BP $320,000 in 2006, said Sean Keefer, deputy commissioner for the Department of Labor and manager of Indiana's Occupational Safety and Health Administration consultation division.

The companies have 15 days to either accept or contest the violations in front of an administrative judge. 

The division conducts about 2,000 inspections per year and issues a few hundred safety orders. It is on track to issue $1.3 million in fines this year, mostly in the range of about $5,000. The largest fines in 2007 and 2008 were $179,000 and $189,000, respectively.

"If businesses try to fix issues and build a culture of safety, we're going to work with them as much as we can,"  Keefer said. "But a few decide safety isn't a priority, and that can lead to serious accidents."

The OSHA  division reports that 132 Hoosiers died last year in workplace accidents in what was the second safest year on record. This year even fewer accidents have been reported.

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