NY Developer Cited for Willful Lack of Asbestos Monitoring

OSHA has cited State Assets LLC, a Brooklyn, N.Y., building developer, for 18 alleged willful and serious violations of health and safety standards at a building rehabilitation site in New Haven, Conn. The company faces a total of $48,100 in proposed fines following an OSHA inspection that began June 11 in response to employee complaints.

The citations address a variety of hazards involving the removal of insulation and floor tiles containing asbestos, chemical hazard communication, flammable chemicals, fire protection, electrical safety, and lack of personal protective equipment for employees.

"Employees who were removing asbestos-containing materials at this site lacked basic safeguards that must be in place before performing such work," said Robert Kowalski, OSHA's area director in Bridgeport, Conn. "In addition, they were exposed to serious and potentially fatal fire, electrocution, and chemical hazards."

OSHA's inspection found that State Assets did not monitor the worksite to determine the levels of asbestos to which the employees were exposed, did not establish and mark regulated asbestos removal areas, and did not provide employees with required respirators, eye protection, and protective clothing.

In addition, there were several electrical related hazards including exposed live electrical parts and ungrounded, damaged, or misused electrical cords; no hazard communication training; unlabeled containers of hazardous chemicals; missing material safety data sheets; no fire protection program on the site and failure to replace a discharged and damaged fire extinguisher; containers of flammable chemicals not protected from damage; improper storage of compressed gas cylinders; no eye protection for an employee using a cutting torch; lack of protective gloves; and protruding nails from scrap lumber.

As a result of these conditions, OSHA issued the company one willful citation for the lack of asbestos monitoring and 17 serious citations for the other conditions. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

Detailed information on asbestos hazards and protective measures is available on OSHA's Web site at www.osha.gov/SLTC/asbestos/index.html. State Assets has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to meet with OSHA or to contest them to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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