Employees at Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Sparrows Point shipyard were exposed to working conditions in 1976 which posed a threat of serious injury and perhaps death, a federal administrative judge has ruled.

In two decisions issued this past week, Judge Benjamin Usher upheld 76 of the 89 violations cited by the federal[WORD ILLEGIBLE] safety and Health Administration and approved $10,490 in fines against the company.

The judge found unsafe working conditions such as unguarded openings on a supertanker under construction, gaps in a 35-foot high scaffolding and frayed electrical cables which subjected workers to the possibility of being electrocuted or burned.

The citations were issued after two inspections in the wake of the death of young worker who was crushed to death by a 48-ton hull section. His death was the third job-related fatality at the plant in 21 months.

The judge criticized the plant's safety procedures as a paper program which needs desperately to be communicated to employees. He said supervisors have done little beyond mouthing safety measures which he called "at best, too little, too late."

Henry Von Spreckelsen, a company spokesman, said Bethlehem would appeal to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. He said the firm wouldn't comment on Usher's ruling because the matter is still under litigation.