OSHA cites battery manufacturer following explosion

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: workplace safety

Electrochem Inc. faces nearly $59,000 in fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for workplace hazards at its Canton, Mass., battery manufacturing plant. The company was cited for 27 alleged serious violations of safety and health standards following an OSHA inspection that began April 26, after a battery explosion burned an employee.

"Plant workers were exposed to fire and explosion hazards, as well as numerous other hazards related to the processes involved in the manufacture of batteries," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director in Braintree, Mass. "Employers in this industry should be well-aware of the inherent dangers to employees and should be taking every possible precaution to protect them from such exposures."

The OSHA inspection resulted in proposed penalties of $58,950 being issued to Electrochem for alleged serious violations of safety and health standards. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Many of the citations involve OSHA's standard covering the process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals. For example, the company is charged with not developing a compilation of process safety information on the hazardous chemicals, the technology, and the process equipment in battery manufacturing, as well as failing to perform an initial hazard evaluation of the process.

The employer is also charged with failing to develop written operating procedures and failing to properly train employees involved in manufacturing. Several citations concern deficiencies in the company's emergency response program and in the personal protective equipment supplied to employees, such as respirators.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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