Company Cited $115,000 for Asbestos Hazards

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) has cited GRL Properties LLC, of Grand Rapids, Mich., with $115,000 in proposed penalties for allegedly failing to adequately protect employees and the general public from serious asbestos hazards at the John Bean Building in Lansing, Mich.

"These proposed fines reflect the fact that the company knew there was asbestos-containing material in the John Bean Building and yet did not take appropriate action to protect the workers removing the material or their tenants," said Stanley “Skip” Pruss, director of Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth. "This indifference will not be tolerated. Effective protective measures must be in place and in use when necessary to protect workers and the general public.”

On Nov. 23, 2009, the MIOSHA Asbestos Program began a complaint investigation involving an allegation that asbestos insulated piping was being removed improperly by a tenant (Property Shield LLC) at the John Bean Building. The MIOSHA investigation found the building was not completely inspected for asbestos, and the building inspection information the building owner had was not conveyed to employees working in the facility or tenants occupying the facility. As a result, a major asbestos fiber release episode occurred, potentially exposing employees and building tenants to asbestos.

GRL Properties LLC and GRL Properties Management Company LLC and their other affiliated companies have citation histories involving asbestos violations that go back to 1996, noted MIOSHA.

GRL Properties received a total of three alleged willful violations with a proposed penalty of $105,000. The violations included no notification of the presence of asbestos to employees, no notification of the presence of asbestos to contractors or tenants, and no training provided to employees performing housekeeping operations in a building containing asbestos.

The company also received five alleged serious violations with a proposed penalty of $10,000. The violations included no complete asbestos survey, proper isolation controls not used, proper decontamination not provided, and the competent person present during removal work not assuring proper work practices were utilized. The total proposed penalty for the company is $115,000.

A willful violation is one committed with an intentional disregard of the requirements of MIOSHA regulations, or plain indifference to employee safety and health. A serious violation exists where there is a substantial probability that serious physical harm or death can result to an employee from the exposure.

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