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Chicago Military Hospital Cited for Asbestos Violations

A veteran’s hospital in Illinois was recently cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for a number of violations including ones related to asbestos.

The Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago was cited for seven repeat safety violations, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The healthcare center failed to properly ensure the facility was in compliance with established safety and health procedures,” Diane Turek, the director for the U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA’s Chicago North Area Office, said.

These repeat violations include not having the correct guardrails on certain floors, having improperly marked exits and failing to inspect certain pieces of equipment.

Jonathan Friedman, a spokesman for the medical center, told the Chicago Tribune that they did not believe that the violations put anyone at risk.

“None of the violations presented an imminent danger,” he said. “We still take these very very seriously, and wanted to address them as soon as they were discovered. It is very important for us to be 100 percent in compliance.”

However, there were a number of asbestos violations for which the center was cited.

Asbestos Violations at Center

The center was cited for failing to put up warning signs in mechanical rooms that contained the naturally occurring substance, which was once widely as an insulator and flame retardant.

In addition, the center was accused of failing to provide asbestos awareness training and failing to alert employees about the presence of some surfaces with asbestos.

Asbestos: Cause of Serious Illnesses

While Friedman said that none of the violations put anyone in harm’s way, if the asbestos in the hospital was disturbed it could cause people to develop a number of deadly diseases.

The inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer that attacks the thin membrane that lines the chest, abdomen and many of the body’s internal organs. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 2,500 people in the U.S. receive a mesothelioma diagnosis each year.

Veteran’s Hospital Future

Friedman told the Tribune that the medical center signed an agreement with the center that reduced the severity of a number of the violations and threw one out entirely.

The Sun-Times reports that the center has 15 business days from when they received the citations to either bring the facility up to compliance, appeal them or request a conference with OSHA’s area director

Asbestos Violators Face Stiff Punishment Around The World

Over the past few decades the awareness of the dangers that asbestos poses to people’s health have become apparent. While it has been known since the mid-1960s that the inhalation of this naturally occurring mineral could cause lung cancer, asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma, a rare cancer, it has only been in recent years that authorities have begun to punish asbestos violators to the fullest extent of the law.

Such is the case in British Columbia, where the Canadian province’s workplace health and safety agency, WorkSafeBC, is hoping to put a contractor who allegedly exposed his employees to asbestos behind bars. Continue reading

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