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Friday, September 05, 2008

OSHA Violations Indicate Enforcement of Asbestos Standard

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited two hospital construction sites for violations related to the asbestos construction standard. The closest site in Rochester, New York involved Gordon-Smith Contracting that was cited for 3 alleged willful and 7 serious violations of the asbestos and respiratory standards and faces a total of $99,925 in proposed fines.
Gordon-Smith employees were required to remove ceiling tiles and other materials that were embedded in or adjacent to asbestos containing fireproofing without proper safeguards. The willful citations, accounting for $87,000, were for not using wet methods or wetting agents to control asbestos exposures, employees not supplied with approved respirators,and the workers had not been trained in asbestos removal. The seven serious citations were issued to Gordon-Smith for not ensuring each employee wore the appropriate respiratory, hand, and head protection; not immediately mending or replacing ripped or torn protective work suits; no written respirator program, and not informing employees of the results of asbestos monitoring.
The second hospital site was in Mescalero, New Mexico involving Maloy Construction, a general construction company, and Deerfield Corp., a plumbing and construction company. OSHA cited Maloy Construction with one alleged willful and 4 alleged serious violations totalling $75,600 in proposed fines. The willful violation was for failing to assure that Deerfield, the subcontractor, was in compliance with OSHA's asbestos standard. The serious violations include failing to inform other employees in the area of the asbestos work, assessing the exposure, and designating and containing the asbestos materials.
OSHA cited Deerfield with 3 alleged willful and nine alleged serious violations accounting for $81,900 in proposed fines. The willful violations were failing to regulate the asbestos area, assess the initial exposure, and provide protective equipment. The serious violations included failing to launder contaminated clothing, train employees on asbestos removal, label containers for waste, and provide a competent person to properly supervise the work area.
These citations show what OSHA focuses on when coming to an asbestos abatement project. Asbestos contractors and consultants should make sure they have a written respiratory protection program with an appropriately trained administrator; an initial exposure assessment; and a means for ensuring employees are informed of the asbestos monitoring results. While general contractors or construction managers must ensure that their subcontractors are in compliance with the OSHA asbestos standard.

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