Ground Effects Workers Protest Health and Safety Violations
Citing major health and safety violations and retaliation including firings of workers, dozens of protestors began a protest action at Ground Effects, an automotive supplier in Dearborn.
Last week 10 OSHA complaints were filed including lack of adequate ventilation; repeated skin contact with the toxic uncured isocyanates, respiratory problems from robotic spray booths, lack of adequate hand and foot protections and problems with the alarm systems.
The protest began today at 3 a.m.
A press conference including workers affected by health hazards is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. outside the Ground Effects Dearborn location at 15200 Commerce Drive North, Dearborn, Michigan 48120.
The NLRB in December 2015 ordered a new election following a narrow union representation election loss citing the company’s objectionable conduct during union organizing drives. Some workers involved in supporting the union have since been fired.
A full list of the alleged OSHA Health and Safety Violations can be ready below and downloaded as a PDF here.
ALLEGED OSHA HEALTH AND SAFETY VIOLATIONS
- Workers are experiencing adverse health effects including burns, rashes, hair loss and asthma.
- Workers are not provided adequate ventilation for truck engine exhaust.
- Numerous essential elements of an isocyanates hazard control program described in the NIOSH guidance document “Preventing Asthma and Death from MDI Exposure During Spray On Truck Bed Liner and Related Applications” DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2006–149 are not in place including:
- Workers are not provided adequate ventilation protection from isocyanates truck bed lining material. Both the physical layout of the booth, negative pressure in the building and the booth entry procedures create high exposures.
- Repeated skin contact occurs with uncured isocyanates. Where gloves are provided they are non-industrial, thin nitrile. Workers report that these gloves come apart quickly when they contact isocyanates and they are dissolved by other solvents used in the process.
- Workers enter robotic spray booths immediately after each truck is sprayed when mist is still visible. They handle freshly sprayed truck bed liner material with bare hands. They describe chest pain, wheezing and headaches from the mist.
- Workers who repair newly sprayed truck beds grind off the material and used compressed air to blow off the dust. They have no ventilation or personal protection equipment.
- Workers who manually spray the liner material have no foot protection and thin nitrile gloves for hand protection.
- The supplied air system that services the paint booths frequently goes into alarm mode. Painters continue to work instead of evacuating. Management states that the system has never been calibrated.
Center of Disease Control and Prevention on exposure to isocyanates:
Isocyanates are powerful irritants to the mucous membranes of the eyes and gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts. Direct skin contact can also cause marked inflammation. Isocyanates can also sensitize workers, making them subject to severe asthma attacks if they are exposed again. There is evidence that both respiratory and dermal exposures can lead to sensitization. Death from severe asthma in some sensitized subjects has been reported. Workers potentially exposed to isocyanates who experience persistent or recurring eye irritation, nasal congestion, dry or sore throat, cold-like symptoms, cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, or chest tightness should see a physician knowledgeable in work-related health problems. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/isocyanates/default.html
- Workers at this location speak Spanish. There are no MiOSHA rights posters, hazard placards or training provided in Spanish.