Jamestown, NY—The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited a Jamestown sheet metal and steel fabrication company for 18 violations of asbestos violations.
Blackstone Business Enterprises, Inc., is alleged to have willfully violated OSHA standards by failing to protect contract employees against hazards of asbestos.
The company faces over $270,000 in fines for inadequately protecting temporary employees who were hired to remove insulation from steam pipes at the company’s Blackstone Avenue plant. The insulation contained asbestos, which can be extremely hazardous when it is disturbed.
Asbestos, a naturally-occurring mineral compound, is extremely heat-resistant and fireproof, making it an ideal insulating material. Although a known carcinogen, it still exists in many infrastructures and buildings. When the compounds become disrupted through renovation or removal, the microscopic asbestos fibers can become airborne and be inhaled by workers at the site unless proper precautions are taken.
Asbestos has been linked to numerous deadly diseases such as mesothelioma – a cancer of the lining of bodily organs such as the lungs, stomach and heart – and pleural disease, as well as asbestosis.
Officials at OSHA allege that Blackstone did not properly monitor the air at is plant in order to determine the level of asbestos exposure. Furthermore, the company failed to provide respirators and protective clothing to its workers, thereby willfully exposing them to the airborne asbestos fibers. The definition of a “willful violation,” under OSHA standards, means a violation that is committed with indifference to, or intentional disregard for, employee health and safety.
Buffalo-area OSHA director Arthur Dube states that the company “knew several of these critical safeguards were necessary yet chose not to provide them.”
The company has also been cited with failure to establish a regulated work area, failure to properly clean and dispose of asbestos-contaminated material and clothing, failure to inform workers and tenants of ongoing asbestos removal projects, failure to and failure to label refuse containing asbestos.
Blackstone has 15 business days from issuance of the citations to either comply with the regulations, request a conference with OSHA officials in Buffalo, or contest the penalties.