An Oregon hospital and a Utah contractor received fines exceeding $25,000 each for mishandling asbestos during a recent renovation. Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division Oregon regulators claimed the Springfield-based McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center “showed a plain indifference to employee safety and health” says The Register-Guard, a local newspaper.
The asbestos was in the sealant and tape of the duct work in the McKenzie-Willamette’s air conditioning system, as the article notes. According to state documents, officials of the hospital and its parent company knew asbestos-containing materials had been located in the work area.
Subsequently, McKenzie-Willamette was fined $26,960 for seven violations, including failure to inform custodians, housekeepers, operating staff, and other employees that asbestos was on-site, as well as a for a failure to maintain records.
State regulators also fined several contractors for violations. The largest of these fines was $25,200 for a Utah contractor accused of five infractions, including failure to inform subcontractors about the presence of asbestos. Regulators also cited two other companies without fining them.
Oregon officials also worried about how workers disposed of the asbestos. In a letter to the Utah contractor, officials said asbestos-containing debris was “wheeled through the hospital corridors, uncovered for disposal.” Regulators accused the contractor of showing “plain indifference to employee safety and health,” as it didn’t disclose the presence of asbestos. The firm even told subcontractors that there was no asbestos in the construction area, where the material was disturbed and then moved.
According to McKenzie-Willamette, no injuries have been reported from the potential exposure. “Additional asbestos identification and management training has been done with all contractors and employees who may come in contact with such materials,” it stated.
But any exposure to asbestos should be cause for concern. According to the National Cancer Institute, there is no known safe level of asbestos exposure. Inhaling microscopic asbestos fibers causes serious illnesses and conditions, including mesothelioma cancer. The latency period between asbestos exposure and the onset of mesothelioma symptoms can be as long as 40 years.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or any other asbestos-related condition, and believe you were exposed to asbestos at a jobsite, you may be entitled to financial compensation. For a free mesothelioma lawsuit consultation, contact Sokolove Law today.