U.S. says SK Battery faces $77,200 in fines over employee health hazards

The U.S. Labor Department said on Monday that SK Battery America faces $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, a supplier for Volkswagen and Ford Motor that employs 3,100 workers at its Commerce, Georgia plant, exposed employees at a U.S. battery plant to unsafe levels of nickel and other metals, and faces $75,000 in fines over six serious violations.


“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 Monday.

“When employers fail to provide safe and healthful workplaces, OSHA will hold them accountable.”

SK Battery America 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 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 in the wake of the October 2023 fire, 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 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.”


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