Monday, October 23, 2006
Contact: John M. Chavez
Phone: (617) 565-2075
BOSTON -- Electrochem, Inc., a battery manufacturer, faces nearly $59,000 in fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for workplace hazards at its Canton, Mass., 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. The investigation was conducted by OSHA's area office in Braintree, telephone (617) 565-6924.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
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