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OSHA Bills $83K for Asbestos Hazards

Monday, January 28, 2013

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A New York asbestos remediation company faces $83,300 in federal fines for nine health and safety violations discovered during an asbestos removal project at a construction site in Albany, NY.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Lorice Enterprises Inc., of Albany, NY, for one willful violation and eight serious violations following an August 2012 inspection that was triggered by a complaint to the New York State Asbestos Control Bureau.

asbestos warning
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

When disturbed by repair, remodeling or demolition, microscopic asbestos fibers become airborne and can be inhaled into the lungs, where they can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and other serious health problems.

The company declined to immediately comment Friday (Jan. 25) on the alleged violations.

Willful Violation

According to OSHA, Lorice employees were removing asbestos-containing roofing material from a building on Kent Street in Albany when federal authorities inspected the site in response to a complaint. The employees were performing Class I or II asbestos work with mechanical equipment such as roof grinders or chain saws, OSHA said.

The company was cited for one willful citation, carrying a $49,000 fine, for failing to perform daily monitoring for asbestos exposure.

A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Serious Violations

OSHA also hit the company with eight serious violations, totaling $34,300 in fines.

The alleged violations include failing to wear protective helments or hard hats, wear eye safety equipment, and to wet materials to prevent exposure to possible airborne asbestos. OSHA proposed penalities of $3,500, $2,800, and $4,900, respectively.

The company also failed to conduct an initial exposure assessment to determine exposure for the workers removing asbestos-containing roofing material, according to OSHA. The agency proposed a penalty fine of $4,900 for that alleged violation.

asbestos
Janice Haney Carr / CDC

Asbestos is a mineral fiber commonly used in a variety of building construction materials. The image shows white asbestos under high magnification.

Other alleged serious violations and proposed fines were issued for failing to:

  • Enforce a "no eating or drinking" policy in the regulated area ($3,500);
  • Remove roofing material in an intact state to the extent feasible ($4,900);
  • Mist cutting machines continuously (no fine);
  • Perform HEPA dust collection ($4,900);
  • Lower asbestos-containing material from the roof properly ($4,900); and
  • Transfer asbestos-containing material to a closed receptacle (no fine).

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.

"Safety conditions must be addressed promptly and effectively, now and in the future, so workers are not exposed to potential injuries and illnesses," said Kimberly Castillon, OSHA's area director in Albany.

The company, which was incorporated in 2003, has no record of past citations with OSHA.

Asbestos Dangers

Asbestos is a mineral fiber commonly used in a variety of building construction materials. When disturbed by repair, remodeling or demolition, microscopic asbestos fibers become airborne and can be inhaled into the lungs, where they can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and other serious health problems.

Lorice Enterprises has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director in Albany or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

   

Tagged categories: Asbestos; Building materials; Health and safety; OSHA; Respirators; Respiratory Protection Standard

Comment from M. Halliwell, (1/28/2013, 1:54 PM)

Please tell me the first picture is a stock photo from someplace and not an actual worker in an asbestos abatement project.


Comment from Mary Chollet, (1/28/2013, 2:43 PM)

The photo comes from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and depicts one of their asbestos removal jobs in the Panama Canal Zone: http://eportal.usace.army.mil/sites/DVL/DVL%20Images/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=2554.


Comment from M. Halliwell, (1/29/2013, 10:36 AM)

Looking at the ACE details, it may be a contractor "stock" photo for the job..at least I hope so. I know some contractors don't require eye protection (most in my jurisdiction require it, especially if swinging a hammer), but as someone who does fit tests and works with ACM, I'd be concerned about the employee's seal integrity with the positioning of that 1/2 mask. I know noses vary, but that mask looks really far down the nose...


Comment from Jeff Laikind, (1/30/2013, 9:27 AM)

It's definitely a stock photo. Google can search for images from the image itself. Search images and click the "camera". Paste the link to this image. Google pulls up over 200 web pages with this image, ranging from attorneys to state agencies to contractors. Unfortunately, as M. Halliwell points out, it gives the wrong impression on the proper use of PPE.


Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (1/31/2013, 9:40 AM)

That simply cannot be a real worker. The gloves, tape, coveralls and mask are all 100% pristine without even a speck of dust. I have never seen a project worker in that pristine condition. It is almost certainly an actor or other stand-in.


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