OSHA Fines Battery Manufacturer $71,000 for Safety Violations

OSHA has cited Exide Technologies Inc. with 22 serious, two repeat, and one other-than-serious violations of OSHA standards and has proposed penalties totaling $71,000 for allegedly failing to protect employees from exposure to lead and cadmium.

"It's important for employers to properly monitor their employees' exposure to hazardous substances such as lead and cadmium," said Paul Hansen, OSHA's area director in Little Rock, Ark. "The effects of exposure to substances such as these can cause both short- and long-term consequences."

OSHA's Little Rock Area Office began its inspection of the lead acid batteries manufacturer on January 8 at the company's worksite on South Zero Street in Fort Smith. The investigation found alleged serious violations including the company's failure to: properly fit test respirators; implement an adequate lock-out/tag-out system to prevent machines' unintended startup; guard sprocket wheels and chains; ensure electrical cords were properly connected; protect employees from lead exposure; and monitor exposure to and institute a training program for cadmium. A serious violation is one in which the hazard could cause death or serious physical harm to employees, and the employer knew or should have known about it.

The company was cited with repeat violations for its failure to provide adequate machine guarding and keep surfaces free of lead. A repeat violation is defined as a violation that previously was cited where, upon re-inspection, a substantially similar violation is found.

Exide Technologies has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Little Rock, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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