Tenneco Hartwell Plant Fined Again For Safety Violations
Tenneco Automotive Operating Co. has been cited for 13 safety and health violations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration following an inspection at its manufacturing facility in Hartwell. Proposed fines total $62,000.
One repeat safety violation, with a penalty of $22,000, involves the employer failing to reduce the pressure in a compressed air device to less than 30 pounds per square inch when using it for cleaning. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Tenneco was previously cited for this same violation during an inspection in 2011.
Nine serious safety and health violations, with $37,800 in penalties, include the manufacturer exposing workers to burn hazards due to the accumulation of combustible dust, and tripping hazards related to poor housekeeping in the wash area. The employer was also cited for failing to provide face shields and chemical goggles for employees working with corrosive materials; provide an eyewash station; not informing workers of the hazards of being exposed to noise beyond the permissible exposure limit; permitting a powered industrial truck with severely damaged tires to be utilized; allowing a worker to leave a loaded forklift unattended with the load raised; having an obstructed emergency exit; and multiple instances of inadequate machine guarding. 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.
Three other-than-serious violations, with $2,200 in penalties, involve failing to record threshold shifts on the OSHA 300 log, not having workers’ hearing retested within 30 days when there was a threshold shift and failing to properly log the number of restricted days when a worker experienced a hand contusion and another received a laceration. 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.
“Tenneco continues to put its workers at risk of serious injury or illness by exposing them to inadequate machine guarding, burn and trip hazards,” said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-East Area Office. “It’s imperative that management is proactive in eliminating hazards from the workplace and doesn’t rely on an OSHA inspection to identify deficiencies.”
In July, 2012 the plant was fined$78,000 for 16 health and safety violations.
In November, 2012 a group of eight Tenneco Hartwell employees filed aa personal injury lawsuit against Tenneco, Inc claiming the company failed to adequately protect them from the chemical hexavalent chromium, a caustic and dangerous chemical known to cause cancer and other respiratory problems after long-term exposure.
That case has not yet been resolved.
Tenneco Automotive Co. is a division of Tenneco, a global transportation components manufacturer with more than 80 facilities on six continents. Corporate offices are in Lake Forest, Ill. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Atlanta-East Area Office at 770-493-6644.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.