OSHA Charges Battery Maker Failed to Protect Employees

A Pawcatuck, Conn., battery manufacturer failed to protect employees against a significant cross-section of workplace health and safety hazards, including toxic chemicals and unguarded moving machine parts, according to citations issued by OSHA. Proposed fines total more than $144,000.

OSHA cited Yardney Technical Products Inc. for 61 alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at its 82 Mechanic St. manufacturing and research facility. The citations and fines follow inspections conducted in June and July, noted Thomas Guilmartin, OSHA's Hartford Area Director.

"The large number of violations cited in this case is disturbing," said Guilmartin. "Basic safety and health standards were ignored. Safeguards to protect workers were absent, incomplete or ineffective."

Chief among the health hazards were excess airborne concentrations of cadmium, a toxic chemical used in battery manufacturing, and the lack of effective controls to reduce exposure levels. The company also allegedly failed to properly monitor exposures, regulate work areas with high cadmium levels, provide protective clothing and equipment and ensure proper decontamination procedures.

Other citations for alleged health violations were for excess concentrations of silver and inadequate means of controlling the levels to which workers were exposed to silver, and accumulations of lead on surfaces and incorrect means of removing them. Hazards were also found involving ladders, paint spray booths and housekeeping.

Safety citations encompass numerous instances of unguarded or inadequately guarded machinery, such as mechanical power presses, woodworking and grinding machinery. Electrical hazards included exposed live electrical parts, and unguarded open-sided work platforms and stairs constituted fall hazards. The company was also cited for failure to evaluate each forklift operator's performance.

A serious violation is one that could cause death or serious physical harm and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard. An other-than-serious violation is a condition, which would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.

Yardney Technical Products Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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