Wednesday, July 18, 1998
Contact: (202) 219-8151
Asbestos can cause lung cancer, other diseases
OSHA Proposes $910,000 Fine for Chicago Area Twinkies' Plant That
Exposed Employees to Dangers of Asbestos
Interstate Brands Corp.(IBC), manufacturer of bakery
snacks such as "Twinkies," today was cited by the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for numerous violations of
regulations to protect workers during asbestos removal. OSHA
proposed penalties totaling $910,000.
The alleged willful violations occurred in January 1998
at IBC's plant in Schiller Park, Illinois. IBC, with headquarters
in Kansas City, Mo., has about 370 employees at the Schiller Park
plant and 32,000 nationwide. The IBC case is the latest in a
series of cases that illustrate the need for focusing greater
attention on the hazards asbestos poses for workers.
OSHA, which investigated the plant in response to an
employee's telephone complaint, found that three employees were
assigned to remove thermal insulation, containing 75 percent
asbestos, from a boiler. The employees were not told that the
insulation contained asbestos.
"Exposure to asbestos can cause serious illnesses such
as lung cancer and asbestosis. Workers who remove asbestos must be
properly trained and the employer must take proper precautions to
minimize their exposure," said Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman.
"There is no excuse for any employer exposing unprotected and
unknowing workers to this hazardous substance."
IBC was cited for 13 alleged willful violations, each
with a maximum proposed penalty of $70,000.
"Stiff penalties are warranted in a case such as this,
where the employer permitted the health of employees to be
seriously threatened by the improper removal of the asbestos," said
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health
Charles N. Jeffress, who heads OSHA.
The willful citations included failure to:
establish a regulated area where employees removed asbestos insulation;
follow pertinent work practice control measures, such as
wet methods, use of high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA)
filter vacuums, prompt cleanup and disposal of waste and
provide appropriate respirators and protective clothing to
employees performing asbestos removal;
provide a competent person to supervise asbestos removal
conduct air monitoring to determine worker exposure to
asbestos during removal;
provide decontamination facilities for employees
identify and inform employees of the asbestos materials
present in the workplace;
label material in the workplace and the waste generated
from insulation removal as asbestos-containing;
dispose of asbestos waste properly; and
provide training to employees regarding the hazards and
protective measures to be used during asbestos
Other recent cases where workers have been exposed to
asbestos fiber hazards include several Justice Department
prosecutions involving the hiring of untrained workers, often
homeless people or unwary teenagers, to rip out asbestos; OSHA
citations against seven contractors for violating asbestos and lead
standards during a demolition and salvage project at the former
Greater Pittsburgh Airport; and OSHA citations against a
construction firm in Delray Beach, Fla., that used untrained
laborers to perform asbestos removal.
Willful violations are those committed with an
intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the
requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and
The company has 15 working days to contest the citations
and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational
Safety and Health Review Commission.