OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
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 5227.
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 for IUE.
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 enforcement battles."
|OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
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