HOUSTON -- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Anheuser-Busch Cos. LLC in Houston with one alleged willful and five serious violations for failing to protect workers from exposure to carbon dioxide and other workplace hazards while working in brewery cellars. The October 2012 complaint inspection of the facility on Gellhorn Drive has resulted in a proposed penalty totaling $88,000.
The alleged willful violation was cited for failing to consider the carbon dioxide atmosphere in the brewing cellars to be immediately dangerous to life or health while also failing to identify respiratory hazards. A willful violation is one where an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, or a plain indifference to employee safety and health.
“Employers must recognize the hazards that exist in their workplaces and then develop the necessary safety and health policies and procedures to protect workers,” said David Doucet, OSHA’s area director at its Houston North Office.
The serious violations cited include failing to verify that conditions in permit required confined spaces are acceptable throughout the duration of the entry; ensure the entrant can communicate with the permit required confined space attendant as necessary, so that entrants can be monitored in the event an evacuation is needed; ensure each attendant performs no other duty that might interfere with the attendant’s primary duty to monitor and protect the entrant of the permit required confined space; evaluate a prospective rescuer’s ability to respond to a rescue summons in a timely manner; and inform each team or rescue service of the hazards they may confront when called upon to perform a rescue at the site. A serious violation is one that could cause death or serious physical harm to the employees when the employer knew or should have known about the hazard.
Anheuser-Busch, headquartered in St. Louis, employs about 600 workers at its Houston brewery. It has 15 business days from the receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Houston North area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Houston North Area Office at 281-591-2438.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.