The exposure of workers to asbestos has led to proposed fines totaling $81,000 for one employer. Commercial roofer Douglass Colony Group Inc. was cited for four repeat and seven serious violations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to protect workers from exposure to asbestos at a Denver work site. “Asbestos is a dangerous material that can potentially cause lifelong, irreversible health problems if proper procedures are not followed,” said Herb Gibson, OSHA’s area director in Denver. “OSHA’s asbestos standard has a specific work practice covering roofing operations that the employer failed to follow, exposing workers to needless health hazards.” Three of the four repeat violations, with a $45,000 penalty, were cited for failure to provide a competent supervisor to oversee the removal of asbestos-containing material, conduct an asbestos exposure assessment and provide adequate training for workers performing asbestos removal duties.
The fourth repeat violation, with a $15,000 penalty, was cited for failure to remove asbestos-containing material properly to minimize potential release of airborne asbestos; use mist-cutting machines appropriately; and use ventilation for dust collection and proper containment and transfer of asbestos-containing material. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar violations were previously cited in June 2013.
Seven serious violations, with a penalty of $21,000, were cited for failing to conduct asbestos removal work within a regulated area; conduct daily air monitoring to determine employee exposure; provide protective respiratory equipment and clothing; identify and inform workers and others of the presence, quantity and location of asbestos-containing material; and label waste containers holding asbestos products. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
While this employer provided the proper fall protection and the focus of this inspection was asbestos exposure, OSHA advises all contractors in the Colorado roofing industry of the agency’s Fall Prevention Campaign to stop falls in construction. Douglass Colony Group, headquartered in Commerce City, was given 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.