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October 02, 2023
Battery manufacturer cited for lead violations

An Augusta, Georgia, battery manufacturer faces $160,727 in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines for exposing employees to unsafe levels of lead, the agency announced September 27. OSHA made its determination based on personal air monitoring of workers and lead accumulation on respirators and counters in areas where workers took their lunch breaks.

The agency cited U.S. Battery Mfg. Augusta Inc. for two repeat violations after inspections found the company failed to have engineering and work practice controls in place to reduce exposures to lead and didn’t prevent lead from accumulating on surfaces. 

OSHA also cited the company for two serious violations after finding that U.S. Battery exposed employees to lead levels in concentrations above the permissible exposure limit (PEL). The agency also learned that the company didn’t ensure employees’ respirators were properly cleaned and disinfected.

Since 2018, federal safety inspections at U.S. Battery’s Augusta facility have identified numerous violations related to lead exposures. In 2018, the agency issued citations for nine serious violations and one repeat and one other-than-serious violation; in a 2019 follow-up inspection, it found one serious, one repeat, and one other-than-serious violation.

U.S. Battery Mfg. Augusta Inc., founded in 1926, designs and manufactures deep-cycle batteries for scissor lifts, golf carts, boats, and other uses, according to OSHA. The company has locations in Corona, California, and Evans and Augusta, Georgia.

“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,” Josh Turner, OSHA’s Atlanta-east area office director, said in an agency statement. “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.”

OSHA cites NJ roofer for fall protection violations

Irvington, New Jersey, roofer JM Brother Construction LLC faces $77,684 in OSHA penalties for one willful and three serious violations, the agency announced September 27. JM Brother Construction exposed employees to potentially deadly falls by allowing them to do roofing work atop a two-story home in Bergen County without required fall protection.

Agency inspectors opened an investigation after observing employees of JM Brother Construction working at heights up to 23 feet with no adequate fall protection system in place in Hasbrouck Heights.

Inspectors also determined the company exposed workers to struck-by hazards by allowing them to ride without seat belts in an area of the company’s cargo vans not intended for passengers. The company also failed to protect employees from head impact injuries and allowed employees to use a ladder unsafely, the agency stated.

According to OSHA, JM Brother Construction LLC is a general residential construction company that provides chimney, gutter, masonry, roofing, and siding services.

“Our investigation found JM Brother Construction jeopardizing the safety of its workers by failing to provide required life-saving fall protection,” Lisa Levy, OSHA’s Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, area office director, said in a statement. “Falls remain the leading cause of workplace fatalities in the construction industry, making it imperative that employers comply with federal safety laws before a worker suffers potentially debilitating injuries or worse.”

OSHA’s construction industry fall protection standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1926.501) has remained the agency’s most frequently cited standard for 12 years in a row. The agency cited 5,260 violations in fiscal year (FY) 2022.

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