OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
Region 1 News Release: BOS 2000-104
Thursday, July 27, 2000
Contact: John M. Chavez
PHONE: (617) 565-2075
OSHA CITES GENERAL CONTRACTOR AND CONSTRUCTION MANAGER ON YORK, MAINE, TOLL PLAZA CONSTRUCTION SITE FOR ALLEGEDLY FAILING TO PROTECT WORKERS FROM ASBESTOS; NEARLY $190,000 IN FINES PROPOSED
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited two contractors for allegedly failing to protect employees working on the renovation of a York, Maine, toll plaza service building from asbestos hazards and is proposing fines against the employers totaling $189,600.
Cited were CPM Constructors, the Freeport, Maine-based general contractor for the renovation of a service building at the York Toll Plaza, and HNTB (Howard, Needles, Tammen and Bergendoff), with an office in Westbrook, Maine, the project's construction manager. CPM faces a total of $114,000 in fines for three alleged Willful and ten alleged Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, while $75,600 in fines are proposed against HNTB for twelve alleged Serious violations.
According to C. William Freeman III, OSHA area director for Maine, the alleged violations were discovered during an inspection initiated March 20, 2000, in response to complaints from workers and a subcontractor about possible employee exposure to asbestos hazards.
"The inspection found numerous significant violations of OSHA's asbestos construction standard that posed hazards not only to CPM and HNTB employees but also to employees of subcontractors, the Maine Turnpike Authority and other outside contractors, " said Freeman."HNTB failed to conduct pre-job monitoring to identify likely sources of asbestos, and once asbestos-containing material was discovered, did not promptly notify Turnpike and subcontractor employees of the asbestos hazard. CPM failed to provide proper containment areas, protective equipment and decontamination facilities and failed to follow proper safety procedures, including having its own employees and subcontractor employees cut, remove and dispose of asbestos containing materials without proper safeguards."
"Specifically," he said. "CPM or subcontractor employees were exposed to asbestos containing materials on four occasions: while scraping up and drilling holes in floor tile with asbestos-containing adhesive, while cutting and removing an asbestos countertop, and while removing asbestos-containing insulation from a water tank. These jobs were performed without respirators, protective clothing, a sealed-off work area, a decontamination room, employee training in asbestos removal procedure and without having a competent person supervise the work."
Freeman explained that asbestos is a suspected carcinogen which, if ingested or inhaled, can become embedded in the tissues of the respiratory and digestive systems. Exposure can lead to such fatal or disabling diseases as asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and gastrointestinal cancer. In the construction industry, asbestos is found in such installed products as floor tiles, insulation, ceiling tiles, fire-resistant drywall, cement pipes and sheeting, particularly in structures built before 1981. Thus, most worker exposures occur during asbestos removal and the renovation, demolition and maintenance of buildings and structures containing asbestos.
OSHA's asbestos standard for construction contains detailed, stringent, specific requirements for employers and for building owners regarding hazard communication, warning signs, exposure assessment, monitoring, demarcating and isolating asbestos removal areas, protective equipment, training, work practices and decontamination procedures for workers, ventilation, clean up methods and having the work overseen by a competent person, one with both the knowledge to identify asbestos hazards and the authority to correct them.
In this instance, the alleged violations include:
HNTB failed to conduct a pre-job survey to determine the presence, location and quantity of asbestos-containing material (ACM) or presumed-asbestos-containing (PACM) material at the jobsite.
When asbestos-containing material was discovered, HNTB did not notify other employers within 24 hours. CPM did not inform its workers that they were scraping up floor tile with asbestos-containing adhesive nor did it inform other contractors that this was being done.
Neither employer ensured that regulated work areas were set up for asbestos removal, marked with warning signs and isolated by the use of critical barriers and impermeable drop cloths.
Neither employer established decontamination areas and equipment rooms for employees nor did they launder contaminated clothing.
Neither employer conducted air monitoring to determine employee exposure to asbestos.
Neither employer supplied workers with respirators and protective clothing during asbestos removal operations.
Neither employer used wet methods to control employee exposure during handling, removal, cutup and disposal of asbestos-containing material and neither employer ensured prompt cleanup of asbestos waste and debris and both employers allowed dry sweeping of asbestos-containing debris.
Neither employer used vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters to collect asbestos-containing dust and debris, neither used local exhaust with HEPA filters to comply with exposure limits and neither used ventilation to move air away from employees' breathing zones.
Neither employer trained its employees in asbestos removal operations.
CPM failed to have a competent person -- one with both the knowledge to identify asbestos hazards and the authority to correct them -- conduct asbestos operations, failed to have a competent person conduct an asbestos exposure assessment and failed to train a competent person.
Freeman urged Maine employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area offices in Portland or Bangor, and added that OSHA's toll-free, nationwide hotline -- 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742) -- may be used to report workplace accidents or fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside of normal business hours.
A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
A serious violation is defined as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.
Each company has 15 working days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Attached is a fact sheet listing the alleged violations for which each contractor has been cited.
Three alleged Willful violations, with $99,000 in proposed penalties, for:
-- HEPA vacuum cleaners not used to collect ACM/PACM dust and debris; wet methods not used to control employee asbestos exposures during handling, removal, cutting and cleanup; no prompt cleanup of asbestos waste and debris; local exhaust with HEPA filters not used to comply with exposure limits; ventilation not used to move air away from employees' breathing zone; use of power saw that lacked a point of cut ventilator; dry sweeping of ACM/PACM waste; critical barriers not used over openings in Class I operations; impermeable drop cloths not placed beneath Class I operations; object within Class I area not covered with plastic sheeting;
-- critical barriers or impermeable drop cloths were not used during Class II operations when a negative exposure assessment had not been conducted; wet methods not used to scrape floor tile adhesive;
-- failure to inform employees that they were scraping up asbestos-containing floor tile; no warning signs posted to demarcate regulated removal area; employees not trained in asbestos;
Ten alleged Serious violations, with $15,000 in penalties proposed, for:
-- CPM did not inform other contractors when their employees were scraping up asbestos-containing floor adhesive;
-- no regulated area established for Class I and II asbestos removal operations;
-- asbestos operations not conducted by a competent worker; no asbestos exposure assessment by a competent worker; no competent worker trained;
-- no air monitoring conducted to determine employee asbestos exposure;
-- respirators not used and protective clothing not provided during Class I asbestos removal operations nor during Class II removal operations when a negative exposure assessment had not been conducted;
-- employer did not launder contaminated clothing;
-- no decontamination area or equipment area established for employees to decontaminate themselves and their tools.
|Total proposed penalties||$114,000|
Twelve alleged Serious violations, with $75,600 in proposed penalties, for:
-- building owners or representatives did not determine the presence, location and quantity of ACM/PACM;
-- employer who discovered ACM/PACM did not inform other employers within 24 hours;
-- no posting of mechanical room containing ACM/PACM;
-- employees not trained in asbestos operations
-- no regulated areas established for Class I and II asbestos removal operations and no warning signs posted to demarcate those areas;
-- no air monitoring conducted to determine employee asbestos exposure;
-- HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaners not used to collect ACM/PACM dust and debris; wet methods not used to control employee exposure during handling, removal, cutting and cleanup; asbestos waste and debris not promptly cleaned up; local HEPA-filtered exhaust not used to comply with exposure limits; ventilation not used to move air away from employee breathing zones; dry sweeping of ACM/PACM debris allowed;
-- critical barriers and/or impermeable drop cloths were not used for Class I and II operations; wet methods not used to scrape floor tiles;
-- respirators not used during and protective clothing not provided for Class I operations nor for Class II operations where no negative exposure assessment had been conducted; no laundering of contaminated clothing;
-- no decontamination area for Class I operations; no equipment area for decontamination.
|Total proposed penalties||$75,600|
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