At the time of the Follansbee Brothers created their relief plan for disabilities, there was no Workman’s Compensation Law in West Virginia. In 1913, the Follansbee plant employed nearly a thousand men. Realizing the dangers of being injured or killed at work, and knowing that the dependants of those injured were without means of support, the company conceived a plan that covered every employee of the mill. The cost of the plan was paid by the company. Under the list of permanent disabilities were the following with the amounts paid:
- For loss of hand, 12 months’ wages
- For loss of arm, 18 months’ wages
- For loss of foot, 9 months’ wages
- For loss of leg, 12 months’ wages
- For loss of an eye, 6 months’ wages
For loss of both hands or both feet or both eyes was classified as permanent disability. Death benefits depended on the deceased’s salary and if married with wife/children.
EMPLOYEES KILLED WHILE WORKING AT FOLLANSBEE STEEL
*1954 – Rocky Comisso killed in Follansbee Mill. My grandfather Rocky Comisso was crushed to death in 1954 at Follansbee Steel. He left behind a wife & three small children. He clocked out and came back into the mill to show another employee something inside of the annealing furnace and others didn’t know he was in that confined space and set the furnace on him. *Submitted by Theresa Comisso, May 4, 2019.
*Pittsburgh Press, Sep. 8, 1947 – (Entry by Paul Freese) Gas killed three men in a “wet well” at the Follansbee Sheet Metal Specialty Co. plant. The men were making repairs in a 45-foot deep well used by the company to pump water from the Ohio River when they were overcome by “black damp” gas. The men who died were:
*Charles Flower, pipe fitter foreman.
*John Schmitz, pipe fitter helper.
*Roger Ryan, died attempting to rescue the other two men.
*Follansbee Review, Oct. 2, 1941– Louis D. (Shoto) Accettola met instant death at the Follansbee Steel Co. The accident occurred while Accettola was at work repairing a furnace when his overalls caught in a conveyor and he was drawn into the furnace. Louis was born in Mingo in 1915 and lived in Follansbee most of his life. He was survived by his wife Rose and two children.
* Follansbee Review, “Body in Scale House,” Feb. 24, 1922, 1. Gennaro DiPasquale Commits Suicide – The body of Gennaro DiPasquale was found in the Scale House on the riverbank at the Follansbee Sheet Mill. He was 28 years. The investigation showed that the shot, which penetrated DiPasquale’s heart, came from his own gun, which lay, on the floor beside his body. The verdict of suicide was concluded.
*Follansbee Review, Sept. 10, 1919, p. 1. — Gerald Ledger lived only a few minutes after a motor he was operating fell with him crushing his neck and shoulders. The incident occurred in the wareroom. He died in the office of the mill surgeon, just as the boy’s mother arrived. He was 19 and recently graduated from FHS.
*Mill Town Review, Mar. 27, 1914 p.1 — Nestae Paull, a foreigner was badly burned when he fell into an acid tank up to his waist, while at work at the pickler at the Tin Mill. His struggle to live ended after suffering five days of intense pain.
*Mill Town Review, July 18, 1913 — John Muntean, a 47-year-old Hungarian immigrant, was crushed to death when a pile of black sheets fell on him while working in the wareroom. He had a wife and 4 children in Hungary.
*Marion Ohio Daily Star, May 16, 1908 — Alonzo Slee 33, a bar mill catcher at the Follansbee Mill, was struck on the head by a heavy iron bar and killed instantly.
- Follansbee Review, “ Local Mechanic Fatally Burned,” Oct. 2, 1941.
- Mill Towns Review, “Voluntary Relief Plan of Follansbee Company..,” Dec. 19, 1913, front page.
- Mill Town Review, “Succumbs to Acid Burns,” Mar. 27, 1914, p. 1.