An Illinois contractor and subcontractor face fines totaling more than $70,000 for exposing roofers to dangerous asbestos hazards.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found Continental Contractors and subcontractor Local Roofing to be in violation of 20 serious health and safety violations at a worksite. Employees were inappropriately demolishing, removing and replacing a commercial building's roofing system in Chicago.
OSHA cited the companies for failing to:
- Conduct an exposure assessment for asbestos
- Establish a respiratory protection program
- Use engineering controls to clean up material likely to contain asbestos
- Train workers on asbestos hazards
- Provide personal protective clothing.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber whose strength and durability made it a popular building material until it was discovered to have dangerous health effects on those who worked with it. Today, asbestos is a known human carcinogen that and can cause chronic lung disease as well as lung and other cancers. Because the symptoms or cancer may not appear until up to 20 years after exposure, the likelihood of repeated exposure is extremely high.
"No worker should be exposed to this potentially life-ending substance without being trained and provided protective equipment," said Angeline Loftus, OSHA's area director for the Chicago North office.
OSHA health and safety standards protect workers from asbestos by establishing a Permissible Exposure Limit to which all employers must adhere. To ensure no one is exposed above these limits, employers must not only assess and monitor worksites for present asbestos hazards, they must adhere to OSHA-recommended engineering controls and work practices to reduce exposure. If these limits prove not effective enough at reducing levels, employers must supplement these efforts with proper respiratory protection for employees.
In the case of Continental and Local, none of the above standards were met, even though OSHA identifies roofing as a material presumed to contain asbestos.
Safety Advantage's contractor safety programs can help keep you up to date with OSHA regulations. For more information, contact us today!