ATLANTA – A federal workplace safety investigation has found an Augusta battery manufacturer exposed employees to unsafe levels of lead, a determination based on personal air monitoring of workers and lead accumulation on respirators and counters in areas where workers took lunch breaks.The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued two repeat citations to U.S. Battery Mfg. Augusta Inc. 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 also issued 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. OSHA proposed $160,727 in penalties.“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.”Since 2018, federal safety inspections at U.S. Battery’s Augusta facility have identified numerous violations related to lead exposure. In 2019, OSHA issued citations for one serious, one repeat and one other-than-serious violation and found nine serious violations and one repeat and one other-than-serious violation in 2018.Founded in 1926, U.S. Battery Mfg. Augusta Inc. designs and manufactures deep cycle batteries for scissor lifts, golf carts, boats, and other uses by numerous industries in the U.S. and abroad. The company has locations in Corona, California, and in Evans and Augusta, Georgia.The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. OSHA’s website includes information on developing a workplace safety and health program, that applies to all workplaces. OSHA also offers free work-specific tools as well. Employers can even contact the agency for information about OSHA’s compliance assistance resources and for free help on complying with OSHA standards. Learn more about OSHA.
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