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Battery Manufacturer Fined By OSHA After Explosion Burns Employee

Electrochem Inc. faces $58,950 in proposed OSHA fines for alleged workplace hazards at its Canton, Mass., battery manufacturing plant.

OSHA launched an inspection April 26 after a battery explosion burned an Electrochem employee. As a result of the inspection, Electrochem was cited for 27 alleged serious violations of safety and health standards.

"Plant workers were exposed to fire and explosion hazards, as well as numerous other hazards related to the processes involved in the manufacture of batteries," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director in Braintree, Mass. "Employers in this industry should be well-aware of the inherent dangers to employees and should be taking every possible precaution to protect them from such exposures."

Many of the citations involve OSHA's standard covering the process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals. For example, the company is charged with not developing a compilation of process safety information on the hazardous chemicals, the technology and the process equipment in battery manufacturing, as well as allegedly failing to perform an initial hazard evaluation of the process.

Electrochem also is charged with allegedly failing to develop written operating procedures and allegedly failing to properly train employees involved in manufacturing. Several citations concern deficiencies in the company's emergency response program and in the personal protective equipment supplied to employees, such as respirators.

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