Willful Violations of OSHA Asbestos Standards Risk Worker Safety
BATON ROUGE, LA - July 30, 2009 - OSHA cited three Baton Rouge based companies, Louisiana Health Care Consultants LLC, Dean Building Holdings and Bob Dean Enterprises, for three alleged willful and 10 alleged serious violations of federal health and safety regulations. The proposed fines for all violations totaled $112,000.
"These companies failed to follow OSHA's standards for asbestos-related projects in the construction industry," said Dean McDaniel, the agency's regional administrator in Dallas. "Employers must be committed to keeping the workplace safe and healthful to prevent injuries, illnesses, and fatalities."
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The cited willful violations included:
- Failure to provide a competent person to supervise the removal of a ceiling that contained asbestos;
- Failure to provide the required respiratory equipment for workers;
- Failure to inform workers that the work site contained asbestos.
Serious violations are defined as a situation where there is substantial probability that death or serious injury and/or illness could occur from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. The serious violations the three companies were cited for include the following:
- Failure to monitor for asbestos materials;
- Failure to utilize engineering controls to determine and minimize employee exposure to asbestos;
- Failure to provide and ensure the use of personal protective equipment;
- Failure to properly manage contaminated clothing;
- Failure to properly manage asbestos containing waste;
- Failure to properly train employees engaged in the removal of asbestos.
For the exposed workers, the fines do little to remedy the fact that they were exposed to asbestos on the job. Each exposure to asbestos increases the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer or asbestosis. Due to the latency period of asbestos diseases, workers exposed to asbestos might not develop any diseases for 10-40 years after exposure.