Sonoma State University (SSU) has been fined $6,000 by the State after neglecting to follow safety rules and procedures while removing athletic tracks that contained asbestos (Gonzalez, 2018). Cal-OSHA cited SSU for seven violations including failure to provide workers with protective clothing and respirators and ensuring proper handling and disposal of the material.
Thomas Sargent, a former employee of SSU, was awarded $387,895 in 2017 after suffering harassment and retaliation over showing concerns about asbestos in the campus’ Stevenson Hall building (Callahan, 2017). As a certified asbestos consultant, Sargent worked for the university for 24 years before resigning. As a part of the settlement, Sargent was reinstated and set to receive about two years’ back pay.
After successfully providing evidence for seven of the 16 Cal-OSHA claims, SSU was ordered to pay an additional $2.9 million in penalties (Payne, 2017). It was split between 231 employees who worked in the building alongside Sargent between 2013 and 2015.
According to SSU’s current asbestos survey, the art building, boiler plant-utility tunnel, Carson Hall, Children’s School, facilities and corporation yard, International Hall, Ives Hall, PE building, Stevenson Hall, Nichols Hall, and Student Health Center sill contain considerable amounts of asbestos (SSU, 2017).
Their current Asbestos Management Plan, published in December of 2017, states that all workers will be properly trained and given appropriate protective gear. It also states that SSU will “meet or exceed applicable federal, state and local safety laws.”
Callahan, M. (2017, March 15). Jury supports SSU asbestos whistle-blower. Retrieved March 19, 2018, from https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/6783057-181/sonoma-state-asbestos-whistle-blower-wins
Gonzalez, E. R. (2018, March 16). SSU slapped with fines for asbestos-related violations. Retrieved March 19, 2018, from https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8117418-181/sonoma-state-university-fined-6000
Payne, P. (2017, September 27). Judge: SSU owes faculty, staff $2.9 million in whistleblower asbestos case. Retrieved March 19, 2018, from https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/7462703-181/sonoma-state-to-pay-29?artslide=2&slide=GAL
SSU. (2017, December). Sonoma State University Asbestos and Lead. Retrieved March 19, 2018, from https://web.sonoma.edu/ehs/hazmat/asbestos/