The City of Austin is reviewing their policies on asbestos after finding “numerous failures and deficiencies that may have led to exposures” at four government departments within the past two years (Barer, 2018). Recent reviews found that the City’s plan specifically lacked people to manage the asbestos and the knowledge of how to test, remove, and handle asbestos.
In July of 2017, employees of Austin Water Utility were instructed to remove a ceiling and furniture and to sweep a utility building without being informed that it contained asbestos (Barer, 2017). In addition to being uninformed about the presence of the harmful material, employees state that they were given improper protective equipment.
Up to 200 employees have similar stories to those working for Austin Water Utility. Other government workers stated that their departments “cut corners, bypassed protocols, and ignored warnings that could have prevented the asbestos disturbances and possible exposures” (Barer, 2017). Of course, many of the departments do not acknowledge that any employees were indeed exposed.
Eric Stockton, of Austin’s Building Services Department, is actively reviewing the City’s asbestos management plan. He also apologized to the employees that could have been exposed. The City is currently expanding its asbestos team, developing procedures, posting warnings on building that may contain asbestos, reviewing buildings asbestos surveys, and retraining employees on asbestos policy (Barer, 2018).
Barer, D., McGivern, K., & Hinkle, J. (2017, November 06). Asbestos exposures proliferate in city buildings, affect up to 200. Retrieved March 02, 2018, from http://kxan.com/investigative-story/asbestos-exposures-proliferate-in-city-buildings-affect-up-to-200/
Barer, D; McGivern, K; Hinkle, J. (2018, February 11). City of Austin overhauls asbestos policy after several incidents. Retrieved February 14, 2018, from http://kxan.com/investigative-story/city-of-austin-apologizes-for-how-it-handled-asbestos-in-buildings/