Workers at Ohio battery plant exposed to lead
OSHA has cited Johnson Controls Battery Group Inc. for 11 alleged health violations - including one willful and two repeat - following an Oct. 25 inspection that was initiated based on a complaint. Inspectors found workers overexposed to lead at the company's Holland plant due to a lack of engineering controls and poor housekeeping practices. Proposed fines total $188,600.
The willful violation is allowing workers to sweep lead particles with brooms and brushes, which can result in greater lead exposure than the preferred method of vacuuming.
The first repeat violation involves employee exposed to lead over the permissible exposure level The second repeat violation involves inadequate housekeeping in the pasting department. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar violations were cited in 2011 at the company's Tampa, Fla., location.
Additionally, eight serious violations include exposing workers to ingoing nip points on the pasting lines as well as various violations of the lead standards, including a lack of adequate personal protective equipment, such as face shields and hand protection for employees working with molten lead; improperly worn respirators in an area where the permissible exposure limit for lead is exceeded; allowing lead-contaminated work boots to be stored in locker rooms where employees change into street shoes; failing to conduct air monitoring for employees exposed to lead for more than eight hours; and ensuring that workers wash their hands to remove contaminants prior to eating.
The citations may be viewed at www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/JohnsonControlBatteryGroup_108096_0424_12.pdf.*
Due to the willful and repeat violations, OSHA has placed Johnson Controls Battery Group Inc. in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. For more information about the program, s.dol.gov/J3.
Johnson Controls Battery Group is a division of Milwaukee, Wis.-based Johnson Controls Inc., which manufactures automotive batteries and advanced batteries for start-stop, hybrid and electric vehicles. Johnson Controls Inc. has manufacturing, recycling and distribution centers worldwide, and employs more than 140,000 workers. The Holland plant employs more than 400 workers.
Prior to this inspection, Johnson Controls Battery Group has been inspected by OSHA 14 times since 2006, resulting in citations for 64 violations, including 15 final order citations for violations of lead standards.