According to a recent Reuters report, SK Battery America (SKBA), the U.S. subsidiary of SK On, has been hit with a hefty fine of approximately $77,200 — equivalent to about 100 million Korean won — from the U.S. Department of Labor for severe safety violations connected to a battery fire at its Georgia plant last year.

SK On Georgia Factory /SKOn

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), under the U.S. Department of Labor, reported that the fire at SKBA’s Georgia plant last October resulted in workers potentially suffering from permanent respiratory damage due to the lithium battery fire. They found five serious safety violations and subsequently imposed the fine.

Post the fire, OSHA criticized SKBA for failing to properly educate its workers on how to protect themselves from the toxic air that injured several employees. They also pointed out that the company failed to establish a full emergency response plan, thereby exposing workers to harmful substances such as hydrofluoric acid that occur during a lithium battery fire.

This is reportedly the second time SKBA has been fined by the U.S. Department of Labor. In January, OSHA imposed a fine of $75,000 (about 115 million Korean won) for six serious safety violations, including exposing employees at the U.S. battery factory to unsafe levels of nickel and other metals.

In response to these allegations, SKBA issued a statement saying, “We are diligently working to assess the issues raised and resolve any questions regarding our ultimate goal of employee safety,” and claimed to have “comprehensive safety protocols and training programs” in place.

They also stated, “We are implementing worker safety rules and training programs to create a safe working environment,” and added that they are “carefully reviewing the points raised and will respond appropriately according to procedure.”