The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined Tenneco Automotive $79,300 for exposing employees to hexavalent chromium and other hazards. OSHA said it found sixteen health and safety violations during their inspection, which was in response to a complaint alleging the hazards.
Some of the fourteen serious hazards involve a failure to protect employees from exposure to hexavalent chromium, including ensuring that employees with and around the toxic chemical compound removed their contaminated clothing and showered before leaving the facility after their shift. Tenneco management also did not provide medical opportunities to employees that were exhibiting symptoms related to this chemical.
Other serious violations included tripping and fall hazards, as well as inadequate rules regarding respirator usage. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The two violations that were not deemed serious include improper record keeping in the OSHA log and allowing a temporary electrical extension cord to be used as permanent wiring. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
One of OSHA’s directors said, “Tenneco needs to take proactive steps to halt these safety and health hazards. OSHA will not tolerate employers who fail in their duty to keep their workers safe.”
Workers who ingest hexavalent chromium compounds for many years may be at increased risk of developing lung cancer. Breathing high levels of this chemical can also irritate or damage the nose, throat and lungs. Damage to the eyes and skin can occur if it contacts the organs in high concentrations or for a continued period of time.
Pulgini & Norton, LLP attorneys have handled workers’ compensation claims for over 25 years in and around Boston and its surrounding areas. If you or a family member has been injured at work and would like to seek legal assistance, please contact us at (781) 843-2200 or (888) 344-2046 or email us.
OSHA fines Tenneco, alleges violations in Georgia, boston.com, July 19, 2012
OSHA fines Tenneco, alleges violations in Georgia, Atlanta Business Chronicle, July 19, 2012
Tenneco Automotive cited by US Department of Labor’s OSHA for exposing employees at Hartwell, Ga., plant to hexavalent chromium and other hazards, United States Department of Labor, July 19, 2012