April 9, 2007
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- A Syracuse-area asbestos abatement contractor faces $57,000 in proposed fines from the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for exposing employees to asbestos-related health hazards during an asbestos removal project at the Agway Building in Dewitt, N.Y.
Aapex Environmental Services Inc. of Liverpool, N.Y., was cited for a total of six alleged willful and serious violations of occupational health standards following an OSHA inspection begun Nov. 13, 2006.
"Most employers today are well aware of the hazards posed by asbestos, yet this employer chose to bypass employee health and safety at this project by ignoring basic safeguards required by law," said Chris R. Adams, director of OSHA's Syracuse Area Office.
OSHA's inspection found that required monitoring of employees' exposure to asbestos was not conducted on several occasions even though monitoring records alleged that it had been done. This finding resulted in the issuance of one willful citation, with a proposed fine of $42,000. OSHA issues a willful violation when an employer commits a violation with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.
The inspection also found that Aapex failed to collect short-term air sampling; keep accurate exposure monitoring records; notify employees of sampling results; train employees to properly establish an asbestos containment system; and prevent asbestos contaminated water from leaking from an enclosed work area. These conditions resulted in the issuance of five serious citations, carrying $15,000 in proposed fines. OSHA issues a serious violation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Adams explained that continued exposure to asbestos can eventually result in serious diseases of the lungs and other organs. Detailed information on asbestos hazards, regulations and safeguards is available on OSHA's Web site at www.osha.gov/SLTC/asbestos/index.html.
Aapex Environmental Services Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to request and participate in an informal conference with OSHA or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Syracuse Area Office, 3300 Vickery Road, North Syracuse; telephone (315) 451-0808.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit OSHA's Web site at www.osha.gov.
U.S. Labor Department releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call (202) 693-7765 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.