EPCRA and OSHA Linked

OSHA's relatively new directive CPL 2-2.59A (http://www.osha-slc.gov/OshDoc/Directive_data/CPL_2-2_59A.html) along with its news release (http://www.osha.gov/media/oshnews/apr98/osha98163.html) specifically instructs its inspectors to verify if the employer/owner/operator has reported their EPCRA reportable hazardous materials AND coordinated its emergency action plan with the local fire department having jurisdiction.

The OSHA inspector will ask the employer if the facility has EPA reportable quantities of hazardous substances, and, if they do, whether the facility notified the LEPC of the hazardous substances. The OSHA inspector will also ask the employer if the facility has experienced any chemical releases in excess of reportable quantities, and will ask the employer for information regarding the facility's emissions inventory. This information would establish the quantities and types of hazardous substances at a facility and provide documentation through EPA's reporting requirements. The OSHA inspectors are instructed to make referrals, as appropriate, in writing to the EPA Regional Office.

Lead-Acid Battery Alert

Some facility owner/operators are receiving counsel their lead-acid battery plants are exempt from building and fire code requirements because the batteries installed are not "gel cells," but are "absorbed glass mat (AGM)" batteries. An AGM battery is NOT exempt from the lead-acid battery regulations and requirements.

Lead-acid batteries contain an extremely hazardous substance, sulfuric acid (CAS 7664-93-9) and hazardous materials including lead (CAS 7439-92-1), lead sulfate (CAS ), lead dioxide (CAS 1309-60-0), antimony oxide (CAS 7440-50-8), cadmium (CAS 7440-93-9), and antimony (CAS 7440-36-0). Significant quantities of batteries can be typically found in most industrial and commercial facilities. As an actual example, an "innocent" looking office building complex had 100,000 pounds (10,000 gallons) of battery electrolyte sulfuric acid used in its Uninterruptible Power Systems (UPSs).

Building and fire codes address lead-acid batteries either directly as batteries (Uniform Fire Code Article 64) or indirectly as hazardous materials (Uniform Fire Code Article 80). OSHA and EPA address lead-acid batteries as NON exempt hazardous materials.

Other names used to describe lead-acid batteries include:

The Uniform Fire Code 1998 Supplement even clarifies the intent of the code by stating:

"This change clarifies that the scope of the article (Article 64) applies to all battery types, including gel cell batteries. The definition of "lead-acid battery" includes all 'electrochemical cells interconnected to supply a nominal voltage of DC power…'"

There are two basic categories of batteries. One is a flooded/wet cell and the other is a Valve Regulated Lead-Acid (VRLA) cell. Both type batteries are generally NOT exempted by code or by EPA or OSHA. Lead-acid batteries are hazardous to life safety, health, and the environment ,and should be treated accordingly.

Additional articles and references are posted on: