The maker of Budweiser and Bud Light, Anheuser-Busch Cos. LLC, is facing $92,400 in fines for two repeat and eight serious safety violations following an inspection of its Columbus, OH, brewery’s ammonia refrigeration system, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The violations were 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, 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 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 also received 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 faced similar violations in 2010 at a brewery in Cartersville, GA.
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.