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Anheuser-Busch unit settles warehouse safety charges

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The U.S. Department of Labor has settled charges with an Anheuser-Busch Inbev S.A./N.V. unit over workplace safety hazards at a New Jersey warehouse for $150,000.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Anheuser-Busch Sales of New Jersey L.LC., a wholly owned subsidiary, in December 2014 for numerous safety violations at its Jersey City, New Jersey distribution warehouse, including untrained forklift operators, obstructed exit routes, damaged storage racks and inadequate chemical hazard communication training, according to a news release issued on Tuesday.

The company contested the citations last year, but has now agreed to implement specified safety measures at its distribution centers in Jersey City and Bronx, New York, according to the release.

“This settlement commits Anheuser-Busch to making safety a priority for workers at its New Jersey and New York distributorships,” Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York, said in a statement. “Successfully implemented, this agreement will result in safer working conditions for numerous workers at multiple company locations.”

Anheuser-Busch must conduct comprehensive safety and health self-audits focusing on hazards involving powered industrial trucks, safety and training, material handling, hazard communication and means of egress, according to the settlement. The company must also establish safety and health committees made up of management, employees, unions and individuals responsible for safety at the distributorships, make management responsible for implementing the committees' recommended changes and make the committees' findings, recommendations and analyses available to OSHA upon request. Additionally, Anheuser-Busch must ensure adequate training of all leased, temporary and subcontractors' employees and consent to interim monitoring inspections by OSHA, according to the settlement.

The company has already corrected the cited hazards at its Jersey City location and paid a fine of $150,000, according to the news release.

“Proactively addressing conditions at more than the cited location makes sense and pays dividends for workers and employers alike,” Jeffrey Rogoff, regional solicitor for the department in New York, said in a statement. “This course of action can reduce hazards and injuries and increase a company's productivity.”

“Safety has always been a top priority, and we take comprehensive measures to provide a safe work environment for our employees,” Mark Benoit, regional director, east, wholesaler operations, Anheuser-Busch, said in a statement. “We have long-standing programs in place that include general safety training for employees, as well as job-specific training for individuals. Our high standards have earned our facility a strong safety record with no lost time due to injuries since 2011, and since taking ownership in 2010, we have made significant investments to enhance safety measures and update equipment at the facility.”