News Release USDL: 96-364
Wednesday, September 4, 1996
Contact: Frank Kane (202) 219-8151
Exide Corporation, Major Unions and OSHA Reach
Unique Agreement to Protect Workers Against Hazards
A unique agreement that will protect 3,000 battery
workers from overexposure to airborne lead, arsenic
and cadmium was signed today by Exide Corporation,
major unions representing its workers, and the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
"This is an outstanding example of how a partnership
can be developed by a major corporation, unions,
and OSHA to protect employees against significant
safety and health hazards," said Assistant Secretary
of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Joseph
A. Dear. "Exide and the unions -- the United Auto
Workers (UAW), the United Steelworkers (USW), and
the International Union of Electrical Workers (IUE)
-- are to be commended for this agreement."
Exide will hire an expert consultant,
knowledgeable in battery operations and agreeable
to OSHA and the unions, to evaluate conditions
in each facility covered by the agreement.
The consultant will develop a package of
recommended engineering and work practice
controls for each facility to bring employee
exposures to airborne lead, arsenic and cadmium
down to the lowest feasible level (LFL). That
LFL may be above the OSHA permissible exposure
limit (PEL); however, under such conditions,
Exide will continue to be required to maintain
all additional methods, such as respirators, to
ensure full employee protection.
The consultant will have 18 months to develop
recommendations, which then will be submitted
to Exide, the local unions representing workers
at each facility, and OSHA for concurrence.
Upon agreement, Exide will have 18 months to
implement the control recommendations.
"Rather than abating a hazard one facility at
a time over many years, the agreement will lead
to abatement of hazards from lead, arsenic and
cadmium exposures for employees of this major
corporation within a specified period of
time," Dear noted.
A prototype of the program was developed in
1992 and has been operating successfully at
three Exide plants in Hamburg, Pa., and Salina,
Kan., and at a smelter in Reading, Pa., according
to company officials. This pilot program led to
the national agreement.
Exide facilities in federal OSHA states covered
by the national agreement are:
Exide Corp. (Secondary Smelter)/General Battery Corp.,
Spring Valley Road and Nolan Street, Laureldale, Pa., employees
represented by USW Local 5227;
Exide Corp./General Battery Corp., Montrose and Spring
Valley Road, Laureldale, Pa., employees represented by USW Local
Schuykill Metals Corp. (subsidiary of Exide Corp.), Baton
Rouge, La., employees represented by USW Local 8394.
Schuykill Metals Corp. (subsidiary of Exide Corp.), Forest
City, Mo., employees represented by IUE Local 1116; and
Exide Corp., Salina, Kan.
Exide also has facilities in the state plan states
of Indiana (Frankfort and Muncie), Tennessee
(Bristol), and Iowa (Burlington and Manchester).
The agreement covers all facilities of the
battery manufacturer located in states with
federal OSHA enforcement. State plan states
where other Exide facilities are located will
be encouraged by federal OSHA to participate
in the program.
Past OSHA corporate-wide agreements have
followed an inspection, citations and proposed
penalties and then a settlement that included
provisions for abating hazards on a corporate-wide
basis. In this case, Exide approached OSHA about
a national agreement following the success of
the Harrisburg pact.
Those participating in ceremonies in which the
Exide agreement was signed included Dear; John
Baranski, vice president of environmental
resources for Exide; Michael Wright, director
of health, safety and environment for USW; and
Charles Barrett, industrial hygiene consultant
Arthur M. Hawkins, chairman and chief executive
officer of Exide, which has headquarters in
Reading, Pa., said the agreement could serve
as a "model for other companies interested in
devoting resources to a better workplace,
instead of expending those resources on