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Asbestos Job Draws $490K OSHA Fine

Thursday, April 30, 2015

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HARRISBURG, PA—An environmental-services contractor is facing $490,000 in federal fines in a case alleging egregious asbestos hazards.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited First Capital Insulation Inc., of York, PA, with seven willful violations, according to a release April 23. The violations are OSHA's highest level of infraction, and the maximum fine was imposed on each count.

An OSHA inspection in October 2014 found three employees of First Capital Insulation removing thermal pipe insulation from an 86-year-old, unoccupied home in Harrisburg.

OSHA
OSHA

Asbestos fibers in the air can be inhaled unknowingly and trapped in the lungs. Regular exposure to asbestos can cause serious respiratory illness and several forms of cancer, according to OSHA.

The workers were pulling out dry material in unmonitored conditions with no decontamination area and no separate area for eating and drinking, according to OSHA.

'Accredited and Certified'

Founded in 1982, First Capital Insulation offers asbestos removal and inspection, lead paint remediation, mold remediation and other services to customers in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

According to its website, the company "is fully bonded, accredited and certified in all areas of asbestos, lead abatement and mold remediation as mandated by pertinent state and federal regulations."

"Accreditation in air monitoring, safety, inspection, abatement supervision and sampling exceed all applicable state, EPA, OSHA and NIOSH guidelines," the company says.

Challenge Planned

The company did not respond to a request for comment.

WarningSign
www.smartsign.com

Workers were removing pipe insulation from an unoccupied home without a clean area, without monitoring, and without testing or wetting the material, said OSHA, which issued maximum fines.

However, CEO Rich Yingling told ydr.com that he was aware of the citations.

“At this point, we disagree with the allegations,” Yingling told the news outlet. “We intend to contest them.”

OSHA’s records show one previous case against First Capital Insulation. In 2010, the company was cited for one other-than-serious safety hazard involving ladders. No fines were issued in that case.

Deadly Hazard

Under OSHA regulations, employers must treat as asbestos any thermal system insulation and surfacing material found in buildings constructed in or before 1980, unless they can prove that the material is free of the mineral, according to OSHA.

The Harrisburg home was built in 1928, and the company made no attempt to test the removed materials, the federal agency alleged.

“Asbestos exposure can cause chronic lung disease and cancer,” said Kevin Kilp, director of OSHA's area office in Harrisburg. “With the right safeguards, employees can be protected from these deadly hazards."

7 Willful Citations

OSHA has cited the company with seven willful violations, each carrying a proposed fine of $70,000.

asbestos
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry / CDC

OSHA requires employers to treat as asbestos any thermal system insulation and surfacing material found in buildings constructed in or before 1980, unless they can prove the material is free of asbestos.

OSHA said the company had failed to:

  • Properly perform Class I asbestos removal;
  • Prohibit asbestos-removal workers from eating, drinking or smoking in the containment area;
  • Conduct exposure-assessment monitoring before or during the removal process; and
  • Establish a decontamination area with an equipment room, shower area, and clean room adjacent and connected to the work site.

“We found employees removing insulation containing asbestos without first wetting the material, which reduces the danger of exposure," according to Kilp.

“A little water could have made all the difference, and the company knew this,” he added.

Secondary Exposure

OSHA notes that the clothing of workers who handle asbestos creates a significant risk for secondary exposure.

“Its microscopic particles can easily attach to hair, skin and clothes,” according to OSHA.

If the worker and his clothing are not properly cleaned before leaving the worksite, others with whom the worker has contact risk secondary exposure.

Moreover, a worker who fails to change out of asbestos-contaminated clothing before returning home can leave fibers embedded in couches, chairs, carpets, beds and other furniture, according to OSHA.

   

Tagged categories: Air quality; Asbestos; Building materials; Citations; Health and safety; OSHA; Regulations

Comment from john lienert, (5/1/2015, 5:31 AM)

Yingling is a "ding-a-ling"


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