You’ve probably heard the commercials about it hundreds of times by now, but Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that is most commonly caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. It is estimated that those who develop mesothelioma only have a 10 month survival time, as the disease is nearly always fatal. In 1989, the United States and the Environmental Protection Agency effectively banned the vast majority of all asbestos containing material. Surprisingly, a court of appeals overturned the ban and there are still more than a few building materials not banned from using asbestos, including roofing felt, cement shingles, millboard, cement pipe, and roof coatings.
While some manufacturing of asbestos containing materials may still be legal, it’s most certainly not legal to subject employees to asbestos containing material (ACM) during then demolition of a building. According to OSHA, several unknowing workers of Kehrer Brothers Construction and their affiliated roofing company, D7 Roofing, were recently exposed to asbestos containing materials, during the demolition stage of a former Okawville, Illinois elementary school.
"Kehrer Brothers Construction brought non-English speaking workers to the U.S. and knowingly exposed them to asbestos," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "Kehrer also threatened to fire his employees if they spoke with our investigators. This is outrageous, illegal behavior. We at OSHA will do everything in our power to ensure this employer stops endangering his employees."
Kehrer Brothers will face $1,792,000 in fines for 16 violations, nine of which were willful and the other 6 were considered serious. D7 Roofing was issued 2 serious violations, totaling $147,000. Among the citations, Kehrer Brothers failed to:
- Train their employees with regards to properly removing asbestos containing material
- Provide the proper PPE to the employees, including hard hats, eye protection, and respirators
- Provide a decontamination area where workers could remove their possibly contaminated work clothes
- Properly remove the ACM to minimize exposure. Workers did not remove then tiles intact or use the wet-removal method to keep the fibers from getting airborne.
- Adequately ventilate the demolition area
- All 16 Kehrer Brothers citations can be viewed here
Since 2007, Kehrer Brothers had been inspected 11 times by OSHA, according to the administration. It’s unfortunate that even after so many opportunities to correct their safety issues, the company put even more lives in danger. We hope that these workers do not develop any of the effects of the terrible disease. To view OSHA’s regulations regarding safe asbestos removal, click here.
Kehrer Brothers has 15 business days, from August 10, to contest OSHA’s citations.