Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Contact: Diana Petterson Elizabeth Todd
Phone: 972-850-4709 972-850-4710
FORT SMITH, Ark. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (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.
Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards may contact OSHA's Little Rock Area Office at 501-224-1841 or call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-6742 to report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to employees.
OSHA operates a vigorous enforcement program, conducting more than 39,000 inspections in fiscal year 2007 and exceeding its inspection goals in each of the last eight years. In fiscal year 2007, OSHA found nearly 89,000 violations of its standards and regulations.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote 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.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.