Ultium Cells Contests $270K in Fines Imposed by OSHA

LORDSTOWN, Ohio – Ultium Cells LLC is contesting fines imposed by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration last month.

Ultium, a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution to produce batteries for the electric vehicle market, was cited in October for 17 serious and two other-than-serious safety and health violations, the Department of Labor said in a news release.

OSHA imposed a total of $270,091 in fines on Ultium for the violations, which Ultium is contesting, according to the U.S. Labor Department website. The website does not state on what grounds Ultium is making its objections.

The citations resulted from four inspections that took place between April 24 and May 5 following a March 2023 explosion and fire at its Lordstown plant. OSHA inspectors found that the company exposed workers to machine and chemical hazards by failing to use and train workers on safety and emergency response procedures. 

The agency also said Ultium Cells did not comply with federally required safety standards for the use of personal protective equipment, including respirators.

Specifically, OSHA inspectors said they found the company failed to do the following:

  • Periodically test energy control procedures for various equipment.
  • Install required machine guarding.
  • Train workers in hazardous energy control procedures.
  • Provide safe access and egress for packing employees, who were exposed to trip and fall hazards.
  • Train workers in emergency response operations, including the release of hazardous N-Methylpyrrolidone. 
  • Coordinate emergency responses with an incident response system.
  • Provide respiratory protection from exposure to hazardous chemicals that can cause numbness, dizziness and nausea.
  • Train workers on the physical and health risks of hazardous chemicals used in the workplace.
  • Provide safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals.
  • Store chemicals in labeled containers.
  • Select appropriate personal protective equipment and provide training on the use of PPE for potential exposure to chemical hazards, such as electrolyte and dried coating material. 
  • Provide eyewash stations, emergency showers and hand protection.
  • Inform employees of their right to report workplace injuries and illnesses.
  • Allow an employee to freely report an injury.

In addition to the proposed penalties, OSHA also issued the company a hazard alert letter, asking it to voluntarily reduce accumulations of metal dust and protect employees from unsafe metal dust exposure.

Federal offices are closed Friday in observance of Veterans Day, so no one was available from the Labor Department to comment.

A spokesperson for Ultium Cells did not respond to phone or email requests for comment.

Pictured at top: Photo by Gene J. Puskar (Associated Press)

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