Hazardous materials, News, Safety events and incidents

Exposed Albemarle and Alcoa workers cleared to work

Two separate incidents of chemical exposure have been reported at Albemarle and Alcoa operations in Western Australia.

The ABC reported the incidents occurred at Albemarle’s lithium refinery at Kemerton and Alcoa’s alumina refinery at Wagerup.

Albemarle told the ABC “a small number of workers” recently complained of throat and eye irritations on two separate occasions.

“Albemarle is close to completing its investigation into what may have caused these symptoms,” an Albemarle spokesperson said.

“The company has put in place interim precautionary measures until the investigation is complete, as the health and safety of all personnel is our top priority.”

On Wednesday, a worker was given immediate first-aid treatment for minor caustic burns at Alcoa’s Wagerup.

“We take any of these types of incidents extremely seriously and will continue to thoroughly investigate, identify risks and implement safety controls,” an Alcoa spokesperson said.

Alcoa told the ABC the employee was immediately treated with first-aid and has since been cleared to return to work.

Bunbury Hospital near the Albemarle refinery confirmed 13 workers were treated for symptoms consistent with chemical exposure earlier in February.

Albemarle said since then, all workers with reported symptoms had also been declared fit to return to work.

Alcoa has a long-standing commitment to driving sustainable practices with a focus on safety across its operations.

“Since developing the process that made aluminium an affordable and vital part of modern life, our talented Alcoans have developed breakthrough innovations and best practices that have led to improved safety, sustainability, efficiency, and stronger communities wherever we operate,” Alcoa said.

Albemarle outlines a safety policy based on a holistic approach to keeping workers safe on the job.

“Our health, safety, security and environmental policy covers governance and safety stewardship; social responsibility, green chemistry principles, product safety, and environmental obligations,” Albemarle said.

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