OSHA cites Georgia company for exposing workers to asbestos, hazards

The following comes directly from a recent U.S. Department of Labor press release:

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Thompson Building Wrecking Co. Inc., based in Augusta, Ga. for four violations after exposing workers to asbestos during demolition at the Grovetown Elementary School in Grovetown. OSHA initiated the July inspection after receiving a complaint. Proposed penalties are $63,700.

“Although the employer was aware of the presence of asbestos-containing material and familiar with its hazards, no preventive action was taken to protect employees,” said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office. "It is the employer's responsibility to provide a safe and healthful workplace."

One willful citation, with a $49,000 penalty, was issued for knowingly exposing workers to asbestos-containing material by a skid steer loader with a grapple attachment to remove debris from scrap metal. The debris contained asbestos material and was allowed to accumulate on the ground. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Three serious violations were also cited, with $14,700 in penalties, for the employer's failure to conduct asbestos work, and its removal, within a regulated area to minimize exposure; not monitoring exposure levels during removal of asbestos-containing material; and exposing workers to inhalation hazards from unbagged asbestos-containing material. 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.

Thompson Building Wrecking specializes in demolition, asbestos removal and large container services. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the 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.


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