The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued citations to seven contractors after they allegedly exposed their employees to asbestos on a construction site, according to a release from the federal agency.
The contractors, including three based in Miami and four based in San Antonio, were cited with 45 serious violations and one other-than-serious violation at a worksite in San Antonio. The proposed penalties from OSHA totaled $148,000, according to the release.
OSHA said the violations stemmed from work that took place at the Reserve at Pecan Valley apartment complex. In March, inspectors with the agency conducted a health and safety inspection at the site and reportedly found that workers were not wearing the proper protective equipment or clothing while renovating apartments.
The specific violations listed by OSHA included failing to ensure that employees work in regulated areas, failing to perform proper air monitoring for asbestos, and failing to adequately train employees to work with asbestos, the release noted.
Dangers of asbestos highlighted by OSHA action
The significant fines levied against the seven contractors emphasizes the critical nature of protecting employees from asbestos exposure. In the release, OSHA’s regional administrator in Dallas noted that following the agency’s standards when it comes to working with asbestos is essential for ensuring employee safety.
“Asbestos is an extremely hazardous material that can potentially cause lifelong, irreversible health conditions,” said John Hermanson, OSHA’s regional administrator in Dallas. “It is imperative that OSHA’s safety and health standards be followed to avoid accidents, injuries and illnesses.”
Hermanson’s comments are in line with scientific evidence that has continued to pile up in recent years. According to the World Health Organization, asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer, malignant mesothelioma and asbestosis are responsible for the deaths of approximately 107,000 people around the world each year.
As a result, a number of countries have taken steps to heavily restrict or ban the mining, use and exportation of asbestos. In Brazil, the Supreme Court is currently holding hearings regarding the ban of asbestos. In Canada, the Quebec government is facing serious scrutiny from medical experts and advocacy groups over its decision to provide the Jeffrey asbestos mine with a significant loan that would revitalize its operations.