New York Hospital Employees Exposed to Asbestos

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a citation to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center for failing to provide safeguards to employees and for improperly removing and disposing of asbestos-contaminated material during renovation work in December of 2007. OSHA has notified the hospital that it intends to issue $110,000 in fines for the violations. An employee complained about the handling of asbestos in the hospital, and OSHA investigators discovered that employees had removed asbestos-containing surfacing material (ACM) from a steel beam without using the proper clothing, respirators, or training.

The material from the beam was not disposed of correctly, the clothes of the workers who removed the asbestos were not decontaminated, the work area was not tested for asbestos levels, and the employees were not informed that the material they were removing contained asbestos. OSHA issued 17 citations against the hospital for these and related violations, totaling $85,000 in fines. In addition, OSHA fined the hospital an additional $25,000 on a repeat citation, noting that the hospital had been cited for a similar problem in April of 2006. The hospital has 15 days from the receipt of the citations to request a conference with OSHA or to contest the citations before an independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires employers to provide a safe, healthy workplace for employees.