Construction Workers’ Asbestos Exposures in Roofing Incident Results in OSHA Citation
Federal regulators have cited a contractor and subcontractor in Chicago for an incident that led to some workers being exposed to asbestos.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued 11 serious violations against Continental Contractors and nine against Local Roofing Inc. The citations were issued on October 16, by the agency’s Chicago North Area Office.
The citations indicate that workers were exposed to asbestos while demolishing and replacing a roofing system in the 4200 block of North Knox on May 7. According to OSHA, Continental Contractors must pay $21,600 in fines, and the subcontractor, Local Roofing, must pay $48,510 in fines.
“Employees using screws to attach 2x4s to asbestos containing material were provided and required to use…disposable respirators” instead of half-mast air-purifying respirators as required, the citation against Continental Contractors states. They also failed to use engineering controls such as a HEPA vacuum and dry sweeping to clean up material that likely contained asbestos, according to OSHA.
The citations indicate that workers were not fit-tested for respirators, did not provide workers with respirator training, did not conduct a proper asbestos exposure assessment, and other citations. This may increase the risk that workers develop serious asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer, which may not surface for decades.
“Asbestos exposure can cause chronic lung disease and cancer,” the Chicago North Office area director, Angeline Loftus, said in the press release. “No worker should be exposed to this potentially life-ending substance without being trained and provided protective equipment.”
Asbestos has been used in a variety of manufacturing and building industries, but most uses in the United States were banned more than 30 years ago. However, asbestos may cause a variety of ailments, such as mesothelioma, that do not surface until decades after exposure.
In 2009, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that the number of asbestos deaths from mesothelioma were continuing to rise, but were expected to have peaked by now as more time passes since the substance was banned.
Asbestos exposure lawsuits have been one of the largest mass-torts in U.S. history, with more than 600,000 people having filed a case against more than 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with mesothelioma or other related injuries that were allegedly caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.
While mesothelioma lawsuits have traditionally been filed by individuals who worked with asbestos-containing products, an increasing number of secondary exposure mesothelioma cases have been brought in recent years on behalf of spouses, children and other family members who developed the disease after breathing asbestos fibers brought home in the hair or on the clothing of individuals who worked directly with the material.
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