LORDSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Ultium Cells battery plant in Lordstown is facing fines for federal health and safety violations.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Thursday that investigators looking into the March 2023 explosion and fire at the plant and investigating other safety complaints identified 19 safety and health violations after opening four separate inspections in less than a two-week period.

Ultium was cited for 17 serious and two “other and serious” safety and health violations, the Department said.

OSHA inspectors found the company exposed workers to machine and chemical hazards by failing to use and train workers on safety and emergency response procedures. 

The agency said that Ultium also did not comply with federal safety standards for the use of protective equipment.

Specifically, OSHA inspectors found the company failed to do the following:

  • Periodically test energy control procedures for various equipment.
  • Install required machine guarding.
  • Train workers in hazardous energy control procedures.
  • Provide safe access and egress for packing employees, who were exposed to trip and fall hazards.
  • Train workers in emergency response operations, including the release of hazardous N-Methylpyrrolidone. 
  • Coordinate emergency responses with an incident response system.
  • Provide respiratory protection from exposure to hazardous chemicals that can cause numbness, dizziness and nausea.
  • Train workers on the physical and health risks of hazardous chemicals used in the workplace.
  • Provide safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals.
  • Store chemicals in labeled containers.
  • Select appropriate personal protective equipment and provide training on the use of PPE for potential exposure to chemical hazards, such as electrolyte and dried coating material. 
  • Provide eye wash stations, emergency showers and hand protection.
  • Inform employees of their right to report workplace injuries and illnesses.
  • Allow an employee to freely report an injury.

The inspections took place between April 24 and May 5, 2023, at the plant.

OSHA has proposed $270,091 in penalties and issued the company a hazard alert letter asking them to voluntarily reduce accumulations of metal dust and protect employees from unsafe metal dust exposure.

Ultium issued a response to the letter from OSHote

Ultium Cells received a letter from OSHA notifying us of multiple citations on October 5, 2023. Our commitment to safety is paramount, and we make it a point to work closely and collaboratively with state and federal officials, as well as our local union leadership, to ensure we are operating in accordance with all relevant regulations. We take safety seriously and have requested a hearing with OSHA, which is the next step in this process.

We look forward to a constructive dialogue with OSHA and hope to resolve these issues quickly and reinforce our commitment to fostering a safety-first mindset among all Ultium team members.

Ultium Cells

There remains one open inspection at Ultium following a June 2023 fire and three injuries, which included a report that the company exposed workers to chemicals. There was also a pressure gauge failure in August, which resulted in battery slurry leaking onto the plant floor.

The plant has been cited 11 times, the Department said.

Ultium has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request a formal conference or contest the findings.