Department of Labor Logo OSHA News Release - Region 5


May 15, 2024

 

Department of Labor alleges subcontractor knowingly exposed employees to asbestos hazards during former Waukegan hospital demolition

K.L.F. Enterprises, general contractor, building owner, asbestos abatement company cited

 

WAUKEGAN, IL – Alleging that K.L.F. Enterprises — a Chicago demolition subcontractor — knew it was exposing its employees and others to the serious dangers of asbestos at a Waukegan work site, the U.S. Department of Labor has cited the company for 36 safety and health violations after a federal investigation.

In November 2023, investigators with the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened a complaint inspection after they observed K.L.F. employees not wearing protective equipment amid piles of debris and steel I-beams during structural demolition of the eight-story former Lakes Behavioral Health hospital.

OSHA determined that K.L.F. continued demolition activities — disturbing and removing asbestos used to fireproof the building's interior — despite recognizing the debris piles outside were likely asbestos-laden. The company did not stop work or require employees to take appropriate precautions and use established control measures to protect themselves from this long-recognized hazard.

"K.L.F. Enterprises' decision not to stop work immediately or ensure appropriate control measures were followed when asbestos was clearly visible exposed these employees to a highly carcinogenic material with the potential for permanent, negative long-term health outcomes," explained Chicago North OSHA Area Director Sukhvir Kaur in Arlington Heights. "We will hold companies accountable when they fail in their duty to protect the safety and health of their employees."

OSHA investigators discovered the company possessed a 2019 building survey that clearly identified the extensive use of asbestos to fireproof the structural' beams but did not inform their employees of the hazards. In fact, agency investigators later determined the building's insulation and fireproofing materials contained up to 15 percent chrysotile asbestos and K.L.F. had also failed to notify the site's general contractor, Reed Illinois Construction in Chicago and the  building's owner, V Covington LLC of Waukegan of the discovery of asbestos at the site during demolition work.

K.L.F. Enterprises received citations for lack of compliance with OSHA's asbestos regulations, including a willful violation for failing to notify employees and other contractors of material containing asbestos, as well as violations related to the company's failures to require employees to wear protective equipment. The agency  also cited the company for its failure to train employees to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions, provide medical surveillance of employees for asbestos, silica and lead exposures; and for other deficiencies in how K.L.F. handled asbestos, silica and lead materials and waste at the site. In addition, OSHA cited the company for exposing employees to safety hazards by not providing adequate fall protection around floor openings.

OSHA assessed K.L.F. with $392,002 in proposed penalties.

The agency also cited Reed Illinois Construction for not ensuring its subcontractor, K.L.F. Enterprises, met federal safety and health standards for asbestos and for failing to inspect the site frequently and regularly for safety hazards, as required. OSHA has assessed the general contractor with $32,262 in proposed penalties.

In addition, OSHA issued a serious violation to V Covington LLC and proposed a $16,131 penalty for the owner's failure to ensure K.L.F. Enterprises and another subcontractor, Alliance Environmental Control Inc. complied with the federal asbestos standard. Alliance Environmental Control Inc. of  Lansing received a serious citation for creating asbestos hazards by not removing asbestos, including the fireproofing insulation, and faces a proposed OSHA penalty of $6,452.

Since 2000, K.L.F. Enterprises has been a family-owned business offering demolition and excavation services for residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal clients in the Chicagoland area. The company has locations in Chicago and in Oak Forest.

Learn more about federal asbestos protection standards and how to protect workers' safety and health.

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Learn more about OSHA.

 

Media Contacts: 

Scott Allen, 312-353-4727, allen.scott@dol.gov
Rhonda Burke, 312-353-4807, burke.rhonda@dol.gov

Release Number: 24-955-CHI