Anheuser-Busch Cited for Refrigeration System Violations

The Columbus, Ohio brewery faces a proposed fine of $92,400.

Anheuser-Busch Cos. LLC, the maker of Budweiser and Bud Light, among other beverages, has been cited by OSHA for two repeat and eight serious safety violations, according to a news release issued by the agency. These come following an inspection of its Columbus brewery's ammonia refrigeration system. It now faces a proposed penalty of $92,400.

The violations were cited under OSHA's Process Safety Management standard, which contains specific requirements for managing highly hazardous chemicals in work processes. For example, anhydrous ammonia is widely used as a refrigerant in industrial facilities, including breweries. Ammonia can be a health hazard because it is corrosive to the skin, eyes, and lungs and is a flammable vapor.

"Anheuser-Busch has a responsibility to ensure the safe operation of its refrigeration systems by implementing an engineering process for the detection and control of potential ammonia systems release," said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA's area director in Columbus. "Exposure to ammonia can have serious health consequences. Failure of these systems, such as overpressurization, can result in explosion and fire. Workers should not be put at risk because this company failed to implement the required protections."

An inspection of the plant found that Anheuser-Busch failed to develop procedures for normal and emergency shutdown and restarting refrigeration systems. The company's process hazard analysis failed to address the dangers of overpressurization and ammonia release and failed to address engineering controls and their potential failure.

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