Tenneco Exposes Employees Dangerous Dust

A global auto parts manufacturer allowed workers to be exposed to deadly dust every day, endangering them and their families in Houston & beyond.

Manufacturing plants are inherently risky places to work. Dangerous machines, chemicals and other hazards dictate that management should protect workers from injury and illness. Global auto parts maker Tenneco delivered devastating news to its workers last spring: for years they have been exposed to a deadly dust that can cause cancer. Even worse, the dust on their work clothes exposed their families at home in Houston and beyond.

Slapped With Twenty Serious Violations

News Channel 5 in Nashville, Tennessee reports that the Smithville Tenneco plant was hit with twenty serious safety violations by the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration last March. Many of those violations involved exposing employees to deadly hexavalent chromium dust, a byproduct of welding stainless steel. Overexposure to the dust is linked to lung cancer.

The news was devastating. Management told them that cancer was not just possible, but likely. Adding to that terrifying news, they probably had exposed their families to the same risk from the dust on their work clothes.

Employees at other Tenneco plants have also been exposed. Similar exposures have happened at Tenneco plants in Michigan and Georgia, the latter resulting in a $90,000 fine. TOSHA nailed Tenneco with a $21,000 fine.

A Daddy’s Precious Little Girl Exposed

Ryan Johnson has been a welder at the Smithville plant since 2011. He has already showed signs of overexposure to the dust, resulting in dermatitis and nose bleeds. He’s terrified, not only at his own risk, but that of his little girl.

“First thing I see in the morning is my daughter. She comes running up to me and I hold her,” Johnson said. He hugs his daughter after finishing his overnight shift. ​I’m afraid that I’ve actually given her a little bit of exposure to it,” Johnson said.

TOSHA photographed a severe rash on another worker’s arm during its investigation, which the worker’s supervisor attributed to laundry detergent. Tenneco was cited for poor ventilation of welding booths and no warning signs of hexavalent chromium exposure.

Danger Publicized in a Famous Movie

Hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium-6, was at the center of the movie “Erin Brockovich”, the Julia Roberts film about the crusading woman who revealed that the deadly chemical had leaked into the soil and aquifer of Hinckley, California from a nearby utility company facility. As this piece from PBS News Hour shows, it spelled the doom of Hinckley.

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Houston’s Workplace Injury Attorneys

The dangers of this deadly chemical have been known for decades. How could a company neglect safety protocols and fail to warn its workers of their toxic exposure?

At The Callahan Law Firm, we fight for the rights of injured workers and their families, whether injuries result from a single incident or from lengthy toxic exposure. We devote our legal practice to fighting on behalf of injured workers and their families.

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