Auto Parts Maker Hit with Repeat Safety Fines

Monday, December 1, 2014 @ 03:12 PM gHale

Tenneco Automotive Operating Co. Inc., doing business as Tenneco, and a temporary agency are facing $342,250 in fines for 27 safety and health violations following a May inspection at its Hartwell, GA, plant, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Elite Logistic Service Inc., a staffing agency that provided temporary employees to Tenneco at the Hartwell plant, is also facing an OSHA fine for one serious safety violation. OSHA initiated the inspection after receiving a complaint alleging improper material handling and machine guarding hazards.

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Tenneco is a global transportation components manufacturer with more than 80 facilities on six continents and corporate offices in Lake Forest, IL.

Tenneco is now on OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program for demonstrating indifference to its obligations to provide a safe and healthful workplace for employees.

“The high number of repeat violations of the same or similar hazards demonstrates that this employer is not concerned with protecting its permanent or temporary employees from occupational dangers,” said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-East Area Office. “Fixing a hazard once, but allowing it to creep back into the workplace, shows that management has priorities other than running an effective safety and health program.”

Tenneco received citations for eight repeat violations, carrying $242,550 in penalties. The violations involve exposing workers to slip and fall hazards due to soiled and slippery welding oils on floors; failing to protect workers from moving machine parts during service and maintenance; neglecting to protect employees from dangerous equipment with required guarding; and storing oxygen and acetylene cylinders improperly. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously faced citations 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. The company received citations for these same violations in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

OSHA also cited Tenneco for 16 serious violations, with $93,400 in penalties, for an inoperable stop pull cord used for emergencies and exposing workers to struck-by and crushing hazards. The company failed to ensure emergency exit signs ended up installed and operational and to affix equipment to the floor, which exposed workers to fire.

Three other violations included failure to label hazardous materials properly, workers using designed safety locks inappropriately and not standardizing safety locks. 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.

Elite Logistic Service employs 110 temporary workers at the Tenneco facility. Elite received one violation, carrying a penalty of $6,300, for failure to remove its employees from exposure to unguarded pallet tippers.

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