Asbestos is a known health hazard that is tightly regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA requires specific measures to protect workers from exposure to asbestos fibers in the course of their employment. Six Illinois companies were recently cited for failure to abide by these regulations. Workers were not properly protected while doing work that may have exposed them to asbestos.
Employers must monitor the personal exposure of workers and require that protective equipment be worn by workers exposed to asbestos materials. The workers in this case were cutting pipes that contained asbestos. The citations were for failure to provide the proper equipment, failure to take air samples, failure to properly dispose of debris and failure to limit the exposure of specific workers.
Any exposure to asbestos can lead to mesothelioma and other asbestos related cancers. There is not a set limit of asbestos that is safe for a human being to encounter. Any exposure to a worker can bring tragic results. The failure to even limit this dangerous exposure is unacceptable given what we now know about asbestos.
The six companies that were cited face a proposed $132,000 in penalties. The companies can contest the citations and present evidence as to why they should not be penalized or why the penalties should be reduced. They have 15 days to contest the citation or agree to pay the fines.
Source: The Washington Times, “6 Chicago-area firms cited for asbestos violations,” 31 December 2014