COLUMBUS, Ohio — Anheuser-Busch Cos. LLC, which makes Budweiser and Bud Light beers and other beverages, has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for two repeat and eight serious safety violations following an inspection of its Columbus brewery's ammonia refrigeration system. Proposed penalties total $92,400.
The violations were cited under OSHA's Process Safety Management Standards, which contain specific requirements for managing highly hazardous chemicals in work processes. One such chemical is anhydrous ammonia, widely used as a refrigerant in industrial facilities, including breweries. Ammonia can be a health hazard because it is corrosive to the skin, eyes and lungs. It is a flammable vapor.
"Anheuser Busch has a responsibility to ensure the safe operation of its refrigeration systems by implementing an engineering process for the detection and control of potential ammonia systems releases," said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA's area director in Columbus. "Exposure to ammonia can have serious health consequences. Failure of these systems, such as overpressurization, can result in explosion and fire. Workers should not be put at risk because this company failed to implement the required protections."
The Feb. 4, 2014, inspection found the Anheuser-Busch plant failed to develop procedures for normal and emergency shutdown and restarting refrigeration systems. The company's process hazard analysis failed to address the dangers of overpressurization and ammonia release completely, and failed to address engineering controls and their potential failure. In addition, the company did not install ammonia detection systems or a continuous emergency ventilation system.
An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.
The company was issued two repeat citations for failing to document properly the ammonia refrigeration system and the building ventilation design for use in emergencies. The company failed to document the design for a suction header pressure relief system adequately. The company was cited for similar violations in 2010 at a brewery in Cartersville, Georgia.
Anheuser-Busch, headquartered in St. Louis, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, a global brewer, and operates under the Anheuser-Busch name and logo.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & 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 Columbus Area Office at 614-469-5582.
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.