US says SK Battery faces USD 77,200 in fines over employee health hazards – ET Auto

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It also said SK Battery did not ensure its staffing agency Moveret Inc that supplied workers at the site made “their employees aware of the hazards associated with lithium battery fires.

The U.S. Labor Department said on Monday that SK Battery America faces USD 77,200 in fines for five serious safety violations after workers in Georgia suffered potentially permanent respiratory damage in an October 2023 lithium battery fire.

This is the second violation notice issued by the department in recent months.

In January, the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said SK Battery exposed employees at a U.S. battery plant to unsafe levels of nickel and other metals, and faces USD 75,000 in fines over six serious violations. SK, which supplies Volkswagen and Ford Motor, employs 3,100 workers at its Commerce, Georgia plant.

“On multiple occasions in less than a year, we have found SK Battery America failing in their responsibility to meet required federal standards designed to help every worker end their shift safely,” said OSHA Area Office Director Joshua Turner in a statement on Monday. “When employers fail to provide safe and healthful workplaces, OSHA will hold them accountable.”

SK Battery America in a statement said on Monday that it “is working diligently to assess the issues raised and resolve any questions with the ultimate goal of employee safety.” The company said that it has “comprehensive safety protocols and training programs.”

The company is a subsidiary of SK On, a global EV battery manufacturer and a unit of SK Innovation that is part of SK Group, the second-largest conglomerate in South Korea.

SK Battery America did not immediately comment on Monday. The company has challenged the findings from the citation issued in January before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, the department said.

OSHA said following the October 2023 fire, that SK Battery “failed to train its employees on how to protect themselves adequately in the toxic atmosphere that left multiple workers injured.”

OSHA said SK “exposed workers to inhalation hazards, including hydrofluoric acid vapors produced in lithium battery fires, by failing to establish a complete emergency response plan.”

It also said SK Battery did not ensure its staffing agency Moveret Inc that supplied workers at the site made “their employees aware of the hazards associated with lithium battery fires.” Moveret could not immediately be reached for comment.

OSHA said in January that SK Battery had exposed employees “working with cobalt, nickel and manganese to respiratory hazards by failing to complete a workplace hazard assessment; ensure employees were given clean, disinfected and sanitary respirators; and store respirators properly.”

  • Published On Apr 9, 2024 at 11:12 AM IST

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