Anheuser-Busch cited for safety violations at Columbus factory

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced citations of Anheuser-Busch for two repeat and eight serious safety violations following a February inspection of its Columbus brewery’s ammonia refrigeration system, according to an OSHA release.

Proposed penalties against the company, which makes Budweiser and Bud Light beers and other beverages 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, in addition to being flammable.

“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 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 classified as serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

OSHA issued the company 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.

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