The University of Rochester Strong Memorial Hospital and DGA Builders, LLC—a developer contracted to do demolition and renovation work at the hospital—were recently cited for 14 serious violations of workplace safety and health standards by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
According to a report by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the hospital and the contractor face a combined total of $53,200 in proposed fines for violations mostly involving the incorrect handling of asbestos. Exposure to asbestos causes mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer that affects the linings of the lungs and other organs.
Specifically, an OSHA inspection conducted in April found that the hospital was at fault for failing to note the location and quantity of the asbestos-containing materials in the work area and for neglecting to post labels and warning signs. According to an OSHA press release, both the hospital and DGA were cited for failing to provide: proper asbestos exposure monitoring, adequate controls to limit exposure levels, adequate training for workers, implementing a respiratory protection program, and informing other contractors of the presence of asbestos-containing materials.
“This is a situation that could have been avoided if the proper protective steps had been taken at the onset of the job,” said Art Dube, OSHA’s area director in Buffalo.
This story serves as a cautionary tale for construction workers involved in demolishing older buildings, where asbestos is often lurking. Asbestos was a common material in sheetrock, vinyl flooring, insulation, and many other commercial and residential building products manufactured before the late 1970s.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is very clear in its warning that exposure to asbestos may occur when asbestos-containing material is disturbed or damaged in some way. Construction activities such as demolition or renovation have the potential to release particles and fibers into the air, which is why there are protocols in place for the safe handling of materials made with asbestos.
If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact Sokolove Law today for a free case evaluation and to learn if an asbestos lawyer can help you.