AGENCY ALLEGES UNTRAINED TRUCK OPERATORS & BLOCKED EXIT ROUTES

Anheuser-Busch contests new OSHA safety citation proposing $160,000 fine

By Ben BOUCKLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: David/Flickr
Photo: David/Flickr

Related tags: Occupational safety and health, Anheuser-busch

Anheuser-Busch says it disagrees with an OSHA citation suggesting fines totaling $162,500 for serious safety failings at a New Jersey site, as the agency confirms the brewer is contesting the ruling.

The brewer of Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob Ultra is in trouble with OSHA for the third time in two years – this time for allegedly putting workers at its Jersey City warehouse facility in risk of serious injury.

An OSHA release from December 16 2014 reads: “Doing business as Anheuser-Busch Sales of New Jersey, the company exposed permanent and temporary workers to hazards that involved powered industrial trucks and other dangers at its Jersey City facility, an investigation on June 4 2014 by the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found.

“Penalties totaled $162,500.”

Another PR blow for Anheuser-Busch

Discussions are ongoing between both parties to resolve the issue, but the citations alone are a PR blow for Anheuser-Busch, which was cited for alleged multiple safety violations at its Columbus, Ohio brewery in August 2014​, and before that at a Houston site in April 2013.

OSHA said it found two willful and eight serious safety violations, but in a statement sent to BeverageDaily.com today, Josh Girard, director of safety, Wholesaler Logistics, said: "At Anheuser-Busch, safety is our top priority and we take comprehensive measures to provide a safe work environment for our employees. We have long-standing programs in place that include general safety training for employees, as well as job-specific training for individuals.

"Our high standards have earned our facility a strong safety record with no lost time due to injuries since 2011 and, since taking ownership in 2010, we have made significant investments to enhance safety measures and update equipment at the facility. We disagree with OSHA’s findings and have filed a Notice of Contest. We will continue to work with OSHA to address this citation,"​ he added.

An OSHA spokeswoman told this website today: "Anheuser Busch has contested the citations. The Parsippany, NJ, OSHA Area Office is still negotiating with the company and have a post contest conference scheduled for this week. If OSHA can’t settle it at the Area Office level, it will move forward in the litigation process.  It will then go to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission."

OSHA alerted by injury and illness rates

OSHA said it targeted ABI’s New Jersey site for inspection due to its relatively high injury and illness rates, under the agency’s Site-Specific Targeting Program.

Investigators determined that powered industrial truck operators were not trained by Anheuser-Busch and defective trucks were not removed from service – ‘willful violations’ carrying a $121,000 penalty.

Blocked exit routes, damaged storage racks and additional powered industrial truck hazards, as well as a lack of chemical hazard communication, led to a further $41,500 penalty.

As of December 16 Anheuser-Busch had 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA’s Parsippany Area Office, said of the temporary workers allegedly put at risk: “These employees faced the risk of serious injuries due to Anheuser-Busch’s failure to provide appropriate training, properly working equipment and safe exit routes, which is unacceptable.

“This company is fully aware of the safety hazards in its New Jersey facility and should immediately take corrective action,”​ he added.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety

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