Like cops in hardboiled movies, attorneys like to check up on those usual suspects on their beat. One I keep my eye on and was eying recently is BF Goodrich’s tire manufacturing plant in Tuscaloosa, AL a few hours south of our offices. A little over a year ago, the plant was fined by OSHA for more than $91,000 in penalties for workplace hazards after being issued 28 serious citations, 2 of which for repeat citations. Most of these dangers were basic matters to solve but life-threatening to workers, such as preventing worker falls into pits through floor openings, updating machinery to prevent electrocution, and not providing proper personal protective equipment like gloves and face shields.
What I found in the news was another occupational hazard.
The widow of a worker at the same Goodrich tire plant filed a wrongful death lawsuit last year. But instead of taking on Goodrich, she and her representation went after one of the largest distributors of atmospheric benzene: gasoline companies.
Since leaded gas went out with the Chevy Nova, benzene has been added to gasoline in its stead. Factory workers at tire building machines use gasoline as a solvent when constructing a tire. Her husband died of acute myelogenous leukemia, a disease almost exclusive to benzene exposure.
Benzene is used in other solvents other than gasoline, but this one caught my interest. Were workers at BF Goodrich informed of the dangers of benzene exposure?
No amount of benzene exposure is completely safe. Employees at Firestone in LaVergne, Tennessee, tire workers at Bridgestone in Morrison, and Nashville workers at Goodyear should be aware and reminded why wearing their respirator properly is important.