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Roundup: OSHA cites firm in worker's death; human error cause of Dollar Bank online crash; more

| Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

OSHA cites Export Fuel in worker's death

Export Fuel Co. was cited Wednesday for 18 serious federal safety violations that carry $41,300 in penalties for the Aug. 28 death of a worker who was crushed by a pavement roller at the company's Salem location. The company “failed to train its workers on the operation and maintenance of the pavement roller,” said Christopher Robinson, director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's regional office. Mechanic Robert Edward Buskey Jr., 55, of Loyalhanna, was working on the roller's engine when it unexpectedly started and drove over him, authorities said. The OSHA violations include fall and electrical hazards, and lack of machine and equipment guarding. The company has 15 days to comply with the citations and proposed penalties, request a conference or contest them, OSHA said.

Dollar Bank online system crash blamed on human error

Dollar Bank said its online banking systems went down Wednesday afternoon because of human error. Spokesman Joe Smith said the bank's online consumer banking website and business banking website, as well as telephone banking, were affected. No customer data were compromised, Smith said, and the systems were expected to be up and running by Thursday. Customers are asked to call 800-242-1616 for assistance. The bank has 62 branches, making it the Pittsburgh region's third-largest retail bank.

Czech nuclear project takes another step forward

Westinghouse Electric Co. and parent Toshiba Corp., along with construction firm Metrostav, said Wednesday they signed agreements with three Czech-owned engineering companies in preparation for the potential construction of two Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear power plants in the Czech Republic. A team of engineers from Energoprojekt Praha, a division of one of the engineering companies, visited Westinghouse's Cranberry headquarters last week to begin working on design matters as part of the bidding process. The state-run utility CEZ wants to have two nuclear reactors in place at its Temelin power plants by 2025, a project that could be worth $10 billion.

Sales of foreclosed homes increase 5% in region

The number of sales of foreclosed homes in the seven-county Pittsburgh region rose 5 percent to 2,963 last year from 2,823 in 2011, according to a report from RealtyTrac Inc., a real estate research firm in Irvine, Calif. The average price of a foreclosed home edged up 1 percent to $78,817. Nationally, foreclosed home sales declined 6 percent to 947,995 from 1,005,711, and the average price rose 2 percent to $167,146. Rising prices of the distressed properties in many markets signaled “strong demand and limited inventory” of available homes, said RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist in a statement. Last year, 10 percent of all home sales in the Pittsburgh region involved foreclosed homes, roughly half the distressed rate of 21 percent nationally.

Pending home sales nationwide highest since 2010

A measure of the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes rose in January from December to the highest level in more than 2½ years. The increase suggests sales of previously occupied homes will continue rising in the coming months. The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales rose 4.5 percent last month to 105.9. That's the highest since April 2010, when a homebuyer's tax credit was about to expire. There is generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed sale. Pending home sales rose in all regions but just barely ticked up in the West, where a limited supply of available homes is holding back sales.

PTI breaks ground on energy technology center

Pittsburgh Technical Institute started construction for its Energy Technology Center, a $3.5 million classroom and laboratory building that will house two new programs when it opens in the fall. The Oakdale school is enrolling initial students in an oil and gas electronics degree program that will begin in July, as well as a welding technology program that starts in October. The center will have three laboratories with $1 million in industry-specific equipment — one each for oil and gas electronics, welding and the school's longstanding heating, ventilation and air conditioning program. PTI has about 2,000 students in its two-year degree programs and shorter certificate programs.

Hyundai nearing settlement of fuel economy cases

Hyundai Motor Co. is close to settling 38 federal lawsuits filed for overstating the fuel economy of its cars. In a U.S. District Court filing, Hyundai said it will make lump-sum payments to nearly 1 million owners of cars and SUVs from the 2011 through 2013 model years, including the Elantra sedan. The amount of the payments wasn't given. They will vary based on the vehicle and how much its mileage was overstated. Hyundai's sister company, Kia Motors, is still deciding whether to participate in the settlement. The Environmental Protection Agency found inflated numbers on 13 Hyundai and Kia vehicles in November. Since then, Hyundai has been compensating owners with payments of around $88 annually. Some buyers refused to settle and sued in federal court.

— Staff and wire reports

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