OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
Region 2 News Release: 08-809-NEW/BOS 2008-176
Mon., June 16, 2008
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Proposes $110,000 in fines for improper asbestos removal and disposal, lack of safeguard
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center for alleged lack of employee safeguards and the improper removal and disposal of asbestos containing material in a closed section of the hospital during renovation work in December 2007. The Niagara Falls, N.Y., medical facility faces $110,000 in proposed fines.
OSHA's inspection, prompted by an employee complaint, found that hospital employees removed asbestos-containing surfacing material (ACM) from a steel ceiling beam without proper protective clothing, respirators and training. In addition, the material was not properly disposed, the employees' work clothes were not properly decontaminated, the work area was not monitored for asbestos levels and the employees were not informed about the asbestos-containing material.
"There was a breakdown of essential precautions before, during and after this work, and the sizable fines proposed here reflect the gravity of the hazard," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's area director in Buffalo. "The medical center's failure to supply and ensure these basic and required safeguards placed these employees at risk of debilitating illness."
Specifically, the medical center was issued 17 serious citations, carrying $85,000 in proposed fines, for: not monitoring asbestos exposure levels during the work; not establishing a regulated area in which to remove the ACM; not using designated asbestos control methods; not providing employees with protective clothing, respirators and training; dry sweeping and shoveling ACM; disposing of ACM in improper and unlabeled bags and depositing other waste and debris in a trash dumpster; improper and inadequate cleaning of contaminated uniforms, including allowing some employees to launder their contaminated uniforms at home; and not having the work overseen by a competent person.
In addition, one repeat citation, carrying a $25,000 fine, was issued for the medical center's failure to notify the employees of the presence, location and amount of asbestos-containing or potentially asbestos-containing materials in the work area. OSHA had cited the hospital for a similar violation in April 2006.
Prolonged exposure to asbestos can lead to lung diseases, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Detailed information on asbestos hazards and protective measures is available on OSHA's Web site at www.osha.gov/SLTC/asbestos/index.html. An asbestos fact sheet is available at www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_AsbestosFacts/asbestos-factsheet.pdf.
The hospital has 15 business days from receipt of its 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 Buffalo Area Office; telephone 716-551-3053.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote 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 process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department 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.
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