US Department of Labor’s OSHA cites Tenneco Automotive for exposing workers to hexavalent chromium and other hazards, proposes $90,000 in fines

Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: October 13th, 2011
Topics: Confined Spaces | Lockout Tagout | Materials Handling & Storage |

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Tenneco Automotive Operating Co. for 20 safety and health violations at its manufacturing plant in Hartwell. Several violations involved hexavalent chromium exposure, which can lead to nose, throat and lung damage. Proposed fines total $90,000.

“There is ample information alerting employers to the hazards posed by hexavalent chromium. OSHA will not tolerate companies that expose employees to this and other well-known workplace hazards,” said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-East Area Office.

Seventeen serious safety and health violations were cited. Those related to hexavalent chromium include failing to prevent exposure beyond OSHA’s authorized limits, not developing a plan to limit exposure, not providing a separate storage area or change area for personal protective equipment used by workers, failing to consult a physician about the chromium exposures, not maintaining an eyewash station, failing to provide clean work surfaces free from chromium accumulations and failing to dispose of waste using a sealed container. The remaining serious violations include failing to evaluate and prevent workers entering confined spaces from doing so without required permits, train workers on lockout/tagout procedures, implement a lockout/tagout program for energy sources to prevent machines from accidentally starting up during servicing and maintenance, provide guards on machines and provide a cover to an electrical panel. 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 involved mounting an outlet and switch box on a structural support column, blocking an electrical disconnect and failing to require employees to practice entering confined spaces since 2009. 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. No monetary penalties were assessed.

Tenneco Automotive Operating Co. is a division of Tenneco, a global transportation components manufacturer with more than 80 facilities on six continents with corporate offices 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.

Source: OSHA Regional News Release