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DOL Cites Facility for Unsafe Air Quality

Georgia battery manufacturer faces $160K in penalties.

October 2, 2023

According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), a federal workplace safety investigation has found an Augusta, Georgia, battery manufacturer exposed employees to unsafe levels of lead at its facility both in the air and on surfaces within its facility.

The investigators based their conclusion via personal air monitoring of workers, as well as lead accumulation on respirators and counters in areas where workers took lunch breaks.

The department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued two repeat citations to U.S. Battery Mfg.Co. after inspections opened in May 2023 found the company failed to have engineering and work practice controls in place to reduce exposures to lead and did not prevent lead from accumulating on surfaces. OSHA issued another two serious citations after finding U.S. Battery exposed employees to lead levels in concentrations greater than permissible. The agency also learned the company did not ensure employees’ respirators were cleaned and disinfected.

As a result of its findings, OSHA has proposed US$160,727 in penalties against the U.S. Battery.

This is not the first time that OSHA has identified lead exposures violations at the company. Since 2018, federal safety inspections at the Augusta facility have identified numerous violations related to lead exposure, including one serious, one repeat, and one other-than-serious violation in 2019, and found nine serious violations and one repeat and one other-than-serious violation in 2018.

“U.S. Battery is well aware that elevated lead levels can cause debilitating and permanent health issues, but once again, our inspectors found the employer failing to protect its workers,” said OSHA Area Office Director Josh Turner in Atlanta-East. “OSHA’s lead standard requires employers to minimize workers’ exposure by using engineering controls, safe work practices, and clean protective equipment. Employers are legally responsible for meeting this standard.”

The findings emphasize the hidden dangers that can be lurking in a facility’s air and the importance of maintaining good indoor air quality (IAQ). One way to improve your facility’s air is via the use of ionization. To learn more about maintaining good IAQ through ionization, check out the episode of Straight Talk! below.

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