News Release USDL: 97-206
Tuesday, June 17, 1997
Contact: Bill Wright, (202) 219-8151
Seven contractors cited during airport demolition project in Pittsburgh
Asbestos And Lead Violations Bring $1.7 Million In Proposed Penalties
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today issued citations with
proposed penalties totaling $1,650,325 to seven contractors for allegedly violating asbestos and
lead standards during a demolition and salvage project at the site of the former Greater Pittsburgh
International Airport terminal.
HDR Engineering, Inc. of Omaha, Neb., the project's construction manager for Allegheny
County, the property owner, received 22 willful violations, and one serious citation, for a total of
$1,397,000 in proposed penalties. The remaining $253,325 in proposed penalties resulted from
citations issued to an engineering firm and five subcontractors.
"The general contractor in this project knew the existence and location of lead and
asbestos in the terminal, knew the dangers of exposure and knew of the requirements for personal
protective equipment for exposed workers," said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor Gregory R.
Watchman, who heads OSHA. "HDR also possessed plans that specifically detailed
precautionary measures to safely remove asbestos-containing material, but the company ignored
the measures and sent dozens of workers into the terminal at their peril. This demonstrates
blatant disregard for worker safety."
HDR was originally hired to plan the asbestos abatement and demolition of the old airport
terminal building, first opened in 1953. Project plans called for removing the asbestos and lead
hazards prior to the commencement of actual demolition operations. However, Allegheny
County approved HDR's proposal to allow contractors to salvage equipment, furniture and
metals, including copper pipes and aluminum window frames prior to removing the asbestos and
lead from the building.
OSHA's inspection, resulting from referral by the Environmental Protection Agency,
revealed that asbestos-containing material, including sprayed on fireproofing, pipe insulation,
plaster, window caulking and floor tiles, as well as lead bearing paint was grossly disturbed
during the salvage operation, yet the companies failed to protect their workers from exposure to
these hazards. Approximately 60 construction workers were exposed to both lead and asbestos
during this construction project.
The instance-by-instance willful violations proposed against HDR involve violations of
the construction asbestos standard, including failure to ensure that exposed employees were
adequately trained in the hazards of asbestos and, as the general contractor, failure to ensure
required compliance by other contractors on the project. Citations issued include failure to make
an initial exposure assessment and failure to ensure that employees were not exposed to asbestos
fibers in excess of OSHA's exposure limits. Additional violations include lack of respiratory
protection, protective clothing or a decontamination area, and allowing employees to eat and
smoke in areas exposed to asbestos fibers.
HDR also received violations of the construction lead standard for failure to make an
initial determination of lead exposure and failure to provide respirators, protective clothing, a
change area or hand washing facilities. Citations were also issued for failing to ensure
employees working around live electrical circuits were adequately protected from electrocution
I.C.F. Kaiser Corp., Fairfax, Va., an engineering firm which acted as a gatekeeper during
the final two weeks, received two willful citations with proposed penalties of $110,000, alleging
failure to perform asbestos exposure monitoring, and failure to train employees regarding lead
hazards. The following subcontractors each received serious citations for alleged lead and
asbestos violations: Menzock Scrap, Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa. ($55,200 proposed penalty); JK
Salvage, Glassport, Pa. ($57,900); Geneva College, Beaver Falls, Pa. ($17,250); Montour
Development Co., Coraopolis, Pa. ($7,800 ); and Halama Brothers Electrical, Inc., Monaca, Pa.
Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain
indifference to, the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations.
A serious violation is defined as one in which there is substantial probability that death or
serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
Each company has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before
the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.