A Buffalo, NY contractor faces $168,772 in proposed penalties for improper workplace asbestos removal and disposal.
The company was contracted by a door and trim company to remove asbestos from piping. OSHA determined that it failed to take the following required steps to protect employees from workplace asbestos exposure:
- Perform asbestos work in a regulated area with proper barriers, ventilation, and enclosures;
- use proper engineering controls and work practices;
- clean up and dispose of asbestos materials;
- launder and transport protective clothing;
- and implement respiratory protection and asbestos training program for employees.
The door and trim company was cited, also, for failing to determine the presence, location and quantity of asbestos-containing materials, and develop and implement a chemical hazard communication program. The company faces $12,124 in penalties.
“Asbestos is a known human carcinogen and can cause chronic lung disease, lung cancer, and other cancers,” Buffalo’s area OSHA director Michael Scime said. “Employers are legally obligated to comply with OSHA standards on toxic and hazardous substances to ensure workers are protected from exposure.”
Workplace Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber that was originally used in building and vehicle materials due to its strength and unique ability to resist heat.
However, abatement became heavily regulated after medical professionals discovered the health issues that inhalation of asbestos could cause. Asbestos fibers can cause scarring to lung tissue and the digestive tract.
Symptoms can take years to present following exposure, but in many cases, it can lead to lung and other cancers. Three standards exist to protect workers against asbestos for general industry, construction, and shipyards.
According to standard 1910.1001(I), “the employer shall institute a medical surveillance program for all employees who are or will be exposed to airborne concentrations of fibers of asbestos at or above the time-weighted average limit (0.1 fiber per cubic centimeter of air as an eight (8)-hour time-weighted average), and/or excursion limit ( an airborne concentration of asbestos in excess of 1.0 fiber per cubic centimeter of air (1 f/cc) as averaged over a sampling period of thirty (30) minutes).”
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