Certain occupations put workers at greater risk than others. Most people working in dangerous jobs probably realize the health hazards present in their workplaces. While there are safety practices that workers can follow to make the workplace safer, employers are also responsible for maintaining a safe workplace environment for their workers.
One company has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for numerous safety violations. The company employed workers to remove roofing material that contained asbestos.
After an investigation last summer discovered numerous safety violations, OSHA issued nine violations to the company managing the roofing removal. In addition, the company has been ordered to pay $83,000 in fines.
One violation which was considered "willful," meaning the company knowingly disregarded the safety requirement, could have put workers' health at risk. The company reportedly failed to perform "an initial exposure assessment" of the premises to determine how much the workers would or could be exposed to asbestos when removing the roofing.
According to a report, the company also did not use the safest methods to remove the asbestos. For instance, the company could have used wet methods of removal to prevent asbestos from becoming airborne during removal. In addition, the company did not have proper head and eye protection for the workers. Each of these safety violations might have put workers in a dangerous position. Even though these workers may not experience negative effects of exposure to asbestos immediately, this does not mean they will not notice side effects of asbestos exposure later in life.
This company can choose to pay the fines, request a meeting with their area OSHA director or contest the citations and penalty. When a company is cited by OSHA for failing to comply with safety violations they have a few options. However, when a worker is diagnosed with mesothelioma because of working with asbestos-filled materials, there may not be very many options for them.
Employers do not always prioritize the safety of their employees. Workers who recognize this and suffer an injury or illness, like lung cancer, because of an employer's disregard for safety practices, may want to look into filing a workers' compensation claim.
Source: Albany Times Union, "Asbestos removal firm faces over $83,000 in safety fines," Brian Nearing, Jan. 22, 2013