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Hazards Cited at Nursing Home Project

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

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A Wisconsin renovation company is facing over $240,000 in federal fines for allegedly exposing workers to carbon monoxide and asbestos hazards, authorities have announced.

Poynette-based A&A Environmental Services Inc. has been cited with four willful and nine serious violations by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

asbestos
©iStock.com / j4m3z

Proposed fines against A&A Environmental Services Inc. total $243,716.

The asbestos exposure reportedly occurred in April at a nursing home renovation project in New Glarus.

5 Workers Sick

OSHA said it responded to a report of workers sick from gas exposure. Five A&A employees who were working inside an asbestos containment area got ill after being exposed to carbon monoxide that exceeded 50 parts per million over an eight hour time-weighted average, OSHA said.

The workers were treated at a local hospital for the exposure. The federal inspectors alleged that A&A failed to monitor carbon monoxide exposure for the workers inside the asbestos containment area, and violated required procedures for safe handling of asbestos.

The company did not immediately respond Monday (Oct. 24) to a request for comment on the citations.

Asbestos Danger

"A company like A&A Environmental Services that specializes in asbestos abatement should be setting the standard in employee protection while handling known carcinogenic material," said Ann Grevenkamp, OSHA's area director in Madison. "No worker should ever become sick on the job or suffer long-term health issues because their employer failed to take the necessary precautions to protect them."

Asbestos is a known human carcinogen and can cause chronic lung disease. Symptoms and/or cancer may take many years to develop following exposure, according to OSHA.

asbestos in lungs
CDC

Asbestos is an extremely hazardous material that can lead to mesothelioma and lung cancer, according to the agency. The Centers for Disease Control image above shows asbestos fibres lodged in the lungs.

The mineral fiber was used in numerous building materials and vehicle products for its strength and ability to resist heat and corrosion before its dangerous health effects were discovered, OSHA noted.

Asbestos exposure occurs when workers cut, sand, remove and/or disturb asbestos containing materials, releasing asbestos fibers that can be inhaled without proper protection.

Citations

OSHA cited the company for failing to inspect and monitor the worksite for carbon monoxide exposure and for failing to follow proper asbestos removal practices, according to the citation document.

Among others, OSHA alleges that A&A failed to provide a separate room for asbestos containment equipment; create a decontamination area; ensure that employees did not consume beverages inside the contained area; and train workers on carbon monoxide hazards.

Proposed fines total $243,716.

The company says on its website it offers asbestos, mold and lead services for commercial, residential and industrial customers throughout Wisconsin. The site says the company has over 30 years of environmental experience.

   

Tagged categories: Air quality; Asbestos; Exposure conditions; Health and safety; Health Care/Hospitals; Renovation

Comment from M. Halliwell, (10/25/2016, 11:10 AM)

Nice to hear that OSHA was on the case, but some more details would be great. I take it there was some form of gas fired heater within the containment or adjacent where exhaust gas would be sucked in (source of the CO)? I'd also be interested in what was being renovated (to get an idea of the risk level). The containment gear and decon areas sound like an error in set-up (someone set it up as a lower risk abatement than it was). The beverages is an area where I've love to see an Alberta-esque fine for the worker (if they have their card, they know better and the Super/Foreman shouldn't have to baby sit this one...you're in at least a 1/2 mask for a reason).


Comment from peter gibson, (10/25/2016, 4:57 PM)

Company has 30 yrs in abatement- but did not follow any rules....really! Not surprised anymore.Society at large.


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