When asbestos is discovered in a building, people are warned to never attempt removal themselves, but rather to hire a state-licensed asbestos-removal or asbestos-abatement company to do the work safely, professionally and according to legal requirements. Unfortunately for customers, the company’s workers and others on the impacted premises, a Washington asbestos remover has been cited for eight alleged violations of workplace health regulations, potentially exposing many to the deadly fiber, according to the Kirkland Reporter last week.
The company is reportedly going to appeal the citations.
The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, a state agency, issued the citations for violations that allegedly exposed the company’s own workers and others to asbestos during several renovation projects around the Seattle area. The company is being fined $87,000 and is losing its state certification to do asbestos removal as well as its general contractor registration, but that will be little consolation to anyone who was already exposed to the mineral, considering that even a short exposure can cause asbestos-related illness, sometimes manifesting decades later.
The Kirkland Reporter article provides details of the allegations behind the citations, with the highest portion of the total fine being for allegedly failing to adequately monitor air samples during removal work at several sites, a step needed to determine what kind of respiratory protection would be adequate to protect workers. Other allegations include not providing proper notice to the state agency of upcoming removal projects; not filing required notices of intent to remove asbestos; and leaving “significant amounts of asbestos residue” on the basement floor of a residence.
Anyone looking for a reputable, competent licensed asbestos-removal company should confirm the license with the appropriate state agency within the particular state as well as inquire with that agency about past citations and violations of safety laws. Federal agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA and others should also be consulted for records of company violations of federal asbestos-safety laws.
If you were exposed to asbestos as a worker, customer or bystander on the premises during an abatement project, seek the advice of an attorney to learn what potential legal remedies may be available, such as a personal injury lawsuit.